Engineering + MBA

How I got into NYU Stern: A Product Manager’s Account

In this post we’ll look at the debrief of a successful tech product manager who got into NYU Stern for an MBA.

Candidate: “I’m a product manager at a well-known social networking tech giant (not Facebook), prior to that I had successfully sold my startup to this tech-giant and was absorbed as a product manager. I have a BS/BTech in computer science from a top Indian tech university.”


Summary: 28 year old Indian male, product manager at a tech-giant in silicon valley. BS in computer science from a top Indian tech school (IIT).  

1. GMAT: 770
2. GPA: 8.9/10.0 (Indian Scale).
3. Work Experience: 36 months as a Consultant (1 promotion -> Software Engineer to Product Manager)
4. Employer: Renowned tech-giant.
5. Extra-Curricular: Cultural Clubs/Campus Newsletter Editor/Head of coordinating team organizing college fest.

Objective: “Transition into top management positions at a global tech giant”

Interview: “The interview was very challenging and I was asked a lot about why I wasn’t looking at working on startups and core-tech/engineering since I was successful at it in the past. I had to explain why I now like management more. I was quite prepared since this was a common interview question posed at anyone looking to do an MBA after engineering. But somehow, my answers even as I explained, didn’t seem to come out quite convincing. Though in the end I came out of the interview exhausted and thinking I’ll never hear back from Stern, I was pleasantly surprised to learn later I had been admitted.”

How to get into NYU Stern MBA

Editor’s Analysis: 

One factor that prominently stands out in your profile is the 770 GMAT – that is very impressive. So is 8.9 GPA in CS from an IIT. I didn’t go to an IIT myself, but because of my Indian engineering undergrad do know quite a lot about the IITs and their selectivity. Nonetheless other factors such as tech giant employer, promotion and alright extra-curriculars make this an overall competitive profile. no wonder you got the admit despite not doing great in your interview, though from your description of the interview I really think you got quite lucky.

There are however, rich lessons to our readers in your interview experience. Adcoms have a tendency to dig deep into aspects of your profile that they find intriguing and not consistent with the rest of your application. It may not necessarily be a bad sign if they corner you on these inconsistencies in your interview. The interview is then a great opportunity for you to go out there and clear any confusion/doubts in the their minds.

Engineering + MBA

How I got into Oxford Saïd: Managament Consultant’s Tale

We present in this post the profile of a management consultant who got into the well-known Oxford Saïd for a 1 year MBA.

Candidate: “I’m a consultant for a renowned non-MBB management consulting firm in London. I applied close to the stage 3 deadline and was pleasantly surprised to have been invited to interview. I accepted my admit and will be matriculating shortly.”


Summary: 28 year old French white male, worked for a highly regarded non-MBB consulting firm in London. Undergrad in Finance from a French Grandé Ecole. 

1. GMAT: 710
2. GPA: 9.5/10.0 (French Scale), equivalent to a UK First Class Honours.
3. Work Experience: 51 months as a Consultant (2 promotions)
4. Employer: Renowned non-MBB Consultancy.
5. Extra-Curricular: Professional gymnast; Part-time French tutor.

Objective: “Transition into private equity”

Interview: “For most part of the interview, my career and objective was discussed. The interviewer took time to explain many aspects of Said – from classrooms to classmates. I had prepared for some questions before hand, but found this isn’t a good idea. Just be yourself and stay calm!”

How I got into Said MBA

Editor’s Analysis: 

9.5 GPA from a Grandé Ecole is very impressive. So is 2 promotions in the consultancy firm. Although the GMAT score of 710 isn’t too great, it’s easily above the Said average of 690. Great extra-curriculars: professional gymnast. Overall, there should have been no qualms for adcom at Said to admit you!


Engineering + MBA

How I got into Stanford GSB: MBA Success Story, Real Estate Tech Entrepreneur

Here’s an interesting profile of a real-estate tech entrepreneur who got into Stanford GSB.

Candidate: “I’m a real-estate/tech entrepreneur with a finance undergrad from a well-known ivy league school. Applied to Stanford and a couple of other top schools, matriculating at Stanford, because of the better exposure to tech entrepreneurship.”


Summary: 31 year old American white male, worked for a real estate investment firm and then started his own venture.

1. GMAT: 720
2. GPA: 4.0/4.0
3. Work Experience: Real estate investment firm – 67 months (4 promotions), his own venture – 14 months.
4. Employer: Top investment firm at Chicago.
5. Extra-Curricular: Chaired several startup tech conferences; scuba-diver with 8 year experience, winning pan-American contests; Advocate for ‘Women in the Work-Place’.

Objective: “Transitioning into Venture Capitalism”

Interview: “In the interview we spoke at length about my objective to transition into venture capitalism. It was difficult to explain my objective of ‘transitioning into VC’, but was somehow able to give a convincing conclusion since I had just sold my real estate tech startup.”

How to get into Stanford GSB

Editor’s Analysis: 

This is a great-to-good profile. I have seen several candidates with similar profiles rejected at Stanford GSB. Also you are 31, that’s a little bit in the upper age range for Stan. I think you should consider yourself lucky. There are however some standing points in this profile: 4.0 GPA from an Ivy League school, 8 year scuba-diving experience and a stellar work experience (4 promotions) with a real estate investment firm. 720 GMAT is alright but not too shiny. I also think that your real estate tech firm stood out.

A key takeaway from your experience is again your interview difficulty in explaining your venture capital post-MBA goal. Although I think there were questions on your post-MBA goal, I think it’s a perfectly plausible goal, given that you successfully sold your startup venture and were working in the real estate investment firm. Several candidates write out venture capital in their post-MBA goals, I think they should give a deeper thought to this goal, especially if they are coming from a non-consulting background.


Engineering + MBA

How I got into Wharton: Story of an Equity Trader

In this post we present to you the profile of a candidate successful at Wharton School of Economics. The candidate has also included interview information to benefit our readers.

Candidate: “Hi, I am a 27 years old equity trader. I applied to the UPenn.  Wharton MBA program and several other programs. Finally got an admit at Wharton and Stanford. While both are exceptional schools and it was exceedingly difficult for me to choose between the two, after much thought I chose Wharton since it seemed to have a greater appeal amongst i-bankers.”


Summary: British-Indian female worked as an equity trader for a top i-bank in London. Undergrad from a top Russell League university. 

1. GMAT: 760
2. GPA: First-Class Honors (equivalent of a roughly American 4.0/4.0)
3. Work Experience: Equity trading, 47 months.
4. Employer: Top i-bank in London.
5. Extra-Curricular: Athlete with several top-honors. Member and convener of several charitable societies.

Objective: “Transitioning into PE”

Interview: “The Wharton interview went really well. The interviewer seemed very impressed. I was asked questions about my career and my objectives. Since I also held lots of responsibilities in charitable societies in London, I was asked how I felt about leaving these behind and moving to the US – this was the only difficult question in the interview.”

How to get into Wharton MBA
Signage for the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School stands outside of the new campus in San Francisco, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Editor’s Analysis: 

Wow! This is a solid solid profile: 760 GMAT, with a British first-class ho,ors from a Russell League university and solid work experience at a top i-bank. Added to that excellent extra-curriculars, this profile would have been difficult for any adcom to turn away. It comes as no surprise that you were selected at both Wharton and Stanford. No more analysis on that here!

An interesting takeaway is an insight into adcom interviews which routinely many fail to convert. It shows how adcoms are going to challenge you, to see in person if you are what you claim to be. From the description of your profile I see that you were pretty much into extra-curriculars, so it was indeed a difficult question for you to answer if you were going to leave all these managerial positions to pursue an MBA. It would have been interesting to see how you answered that question.

Finally, the information that you chose Stanford over Wharton is also a bold stand. Of course both are exceptional schools – its very difficult to choose one over another. But so many others would have made Stanford their choice, as I have routinely seen.

Engineering + MBA

How I got into MIT Sloan: An Oil Baroness’s Account

In this post we present to you the profile of a candidate successful at MIT Sloan, and effectively see how to get into MIT Sloan.

Candidate: “I’m an American female in my late-20s. I applied to MIT Sloan among other schools such as Wharton and Stanford. I was rejected after an interview at both these schools, but converted successfully my Sloan interview. I worked for a top oil-drilling and exploration firm, before applying to Sloan.”


Summary: White female, with a Bachelor’s in engineering from an American, non-Ivy University, working at a well-known Oil drilling/exploration firm.

1. GMAT: 750
2. GPA: 3.8/4.0
3. Work Experience: Process Engieer/Field Manager, 54 months with 2 promotions at the time of application
4. Employer: Oil Exploration/Drilling
5. Extra-Curricular: Charities and Sports (not too accomplished).

Objective: “Transitioning into oil-based consultancy.”

Interview: “I was asked about my extra-curriculars which were clearly sub-par. However this was unlike my interviews at Stanford and Wharton, where most questions revolved around my career. At the end of the interviews, I knew I was definitely not going to get through MIT Sloan, but I probably had a chance at Stanford and Wharton. When the results came I was in for a surprise.”

How to get into MIT Sloan

Editor’s Analysis: This is no surprise at all (getting into MIT Sloan)! A 750 GMAT and a solid 3.8 GPA are a stunning combination. One thing is for certain your rejection at Stanford and Wharton didn’t have anything to do with this.

Your post-MBA objective is extremely solid and plausible: you did a great job at your ‘top oil-exploratory’ firm (something tells me this is Schlumberger/Shell), now you are looking to move into the lucrative oil consultancy business leveraging on the expertise gained from a successful (2 promotions) career. From a work-related perspective, this is a very competitive profile.

Getting to the weaker bit: extra-curriculars. ‘Charities and Sports’ is not very inspiring. This is certainly a let-down, but perhaps easily explainable and can be compensated (I presume you handled the MIT Sloan interview well, given the probing questions on your extra-curriculars), given the stellar performance on GPA, GMAT, and work experience. So MIT Sloan is really not a surprise – MIT Sloan is an exceptional B-School, and I think you really deserved the admit.

What then is a surprise? Your rejection at Stanford and Wharton, that too after an interview where you weren’t even asked many questions on your extra-curriculars. Given the way adcoms think, its possible that there were several candidates from an oil-background in your application cycle to these schools (Stanford and Wharton). Given the high-level of competition, its possible that these candidates had a better/slightly more interesting profile than yours. The way most adcoms work is to not seek out weaknesses in candidate profiles and compare them with strengths of other candidates, but rather compare candidates strength-to-strength. That’s probably the reason why your extra-curriculars were not too important to these adcoms. They asked you questions on your Oil career, possibly since they had other top performers with an oil-background to compare you with. Unfortunately, I think this is were you didn’t make the cut. (A lot of candidates apply to these top business schools with an oil-background.)

Engineering + MBA

How I got into Chicago Booth: Story of a Failed Entrepreneur

In this post we present to you the profile of a candidate successful at Chicago Booth.

Candidate: “Prior to applying to Booth, I was a Georgia-based financial adviser for a small audit firm. I did fairly well, and had gotten my Bachelor’s in Finance from a (reasonably) well-known University in Georgia. A couple of years before applying to Booth, I took a sabbatical from my job to try my hand at entrepreneurship. I had gotten fascinated by FinTech. With a friend I launched a FinTech startup, which ultimately failed. But the experience propelled me towards an MBA. I applied to Booth in the 2nd round and was accepted.”


Summary: White 27 year old male, with a Bachelor’s in Finance, working at a mid-size audit/advisory firm.

1. GMAT: 730
2. GPA: 3.8/4.0
3. Work Experience: 46 months with 2 promotions at the time of application
4. Employer: Renowned Audit/Advisory, Georgia
5. Extra-Curricular: Boxer – county champion;

Objective: “Moving into investment banking and private equity. Private equity since I had startup experience.”

Interview: “I was asked about my fling with the FinTech startup, and why I didn’t mention going back to entrepreneurship as my post-MBA objective. The interviewer told me that after all an MBA from Booth could put me in an excellent position in terms of the skills and the networks available, to become more successful in entrepreneurial ventures. Boy that was a difficult question for me to respond to. I told her that my startup experience had convinced me firmly that entrepreneurship was not my forte and given that I was already fairly successful in my career in finance/audit, it made sense to invest in gaining expertise at something which I was already good at.”

getting into Chicago Booth
The Harper Centre at Chicago Booth.

Editor’s Analysis:
A reasonably good profile, though “county boxer” seems quite exotic. A 730 GMAT for Booth is just above the median (726). GPA is great and so is the work experience with 2 promotions. While, an audit/advisory firm doesn’t sound very glamorous, its not all that bad. This could have been overlooked given that the candidate did get 2 promotions in the course of his/her job. Also there’s the elephant in the room: failed FinTech startup. Well, in the past we have seen different schools reacting differently to a failed startup on the resume. The same school has also reacted differently on different occasions. The fact that the candidate bounced back and only took a sabbatical to experiment his/her idea is a good booster. I’m guessing the candidate got his/her second promotion after the startup gig. In which case its understandable that his/her ability to get back must have impressed adcom.

I think the candidate did extremely well in the interview, there are some obvious weaknesses in the profile that have been well defended and coherently explained away, consistent with the rest of the application. As post-MBA goal of taking up entrepreneurship is getting terribly clichéd, so is the question, “Do you really need an MBA to become an entrepreneur?”. In this case adcom attempted to put the candidate in a spot, the candidate responded extremely well by affirming that entrepreneurship is not his/her forte.

Engineering + MBA

Harvard MBA Success Story: Low GPA and Low GMAT

Before we look into the profile of a successful HBS MBA candidate, let me remind you to have a look at: how to get into HBS.

Candidate: “I started my career in a low-key branch at a MBB consulting firm in eastern Europe. Prior to that I received a master’s degree in a regionally well-known eastern European university in engineering. I worked at the MBB consulting firm for about four-and-a-half years. During this time I received a couple of promotions, and showed very steady career growth. I’m sure therefore that my LoRs which came from my line-manager and the Director of our team were solid. I had a low GPA and a low GMAT, still got into HBS because of my work experience”


Summary: European 28 year old female, with a master’s degree in engineering.

1. GMAT: 690
2. GPA: 3.0/4.0 (European)
3. Work Experience: 54 months at the time of application
4. Employer: MBB Consulting, low-key European branch
5. Extra-Curricular: Triathlon with several national awards; Women’s Self-Help network founder/convener reaching about 28,000 women in Euro-Zone; Actor/Drama performer with performances in well-known productions

Post-MBA Objective: “Moving to upper management in the present MBB firm and Setting up own consultancy in eastern Europe in the long term.”

hbs with low gpa and low gmat

This is one of those profiles which gives the reader a lot of hope, however on close observation we know this is a very rare background and talented candidate. Diversity in extra-curriculars ranging from on the sports field (Triathlon) to more artistic pursuits in Drama/Theatre is certainly commendable. ‘Couple of promotions’ at an MBB in four-and-a-half years shows strong work-ethic and easily compensates for the ack of a strong GMAT, although 690 is not too bad.

GPA is below-average by American standards, but how does it compare with similar European candidates? Also prestige regional university may have been overrated by adcoms. Some European universities such as the French Grandé Ecole and the German TU9 systems command respect. But I reckon this is an eastern European university? Nonetheless, lower GPAs may have been overlooked due to the branch of study being engineering (that too with a MS), prestige under-grad and great work-ethic, in a non-engineering job.

Another important factor, though I wouldn’t like to take the credit of a great profile (notwithstanding a low GPA and a slightly low GMAT) away from the candidate, is the mention of Eastern Europe. Now how many students apply to HBS each year from eastern Europe? Not too many, I guess. This might have presented you as an exotic catch to the HBS adcom, which like other schools is keen to enhance the diversity of their class.