Columbia Business School - Aversion to Indian applicants? : Ask Amerasia (Paul Lanzillotti)
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# Columbia Business School - Aversion to Indian applicants?

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Manager
Joined: 26 Jun 2011
Posts: 249
Location: India
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08 Aug 2012, 20:59
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Dear Paul,

I do not find many Columbia alumni from Indian origin, and that is not the case with other top schools such as Harvard or Stanford.
Almost all of the few Indian Columbia Alumni have either grown up in US or have done their undergrad from US.
Is there a particular aversion toward Indian applicants at Columbia ?
_________________

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Joined: 25 Jan 2010
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Kudos [?]: 212 [2] , given: 218

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14 Sep 2012, 03:28
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Expert's post
Hey dreamchase,

Thanks for reaching out to me. This is actually a pretty interesting question - if I may re-frame it slightly - "does CBS unfairly treat Indian applicants more so than any other top program?" How about I completely misrepresent your question - "is CBS racist?"

I think you're looking at this the wrong way. The real question is do Indians (from India) have an aversion for Columbia? I am joking - slightly. Let me explain!

Columbia is basically for bankers by bankers. It's like FUBU, but in bespoke pinstripe and cordovan horsehide.
Now, most bankers come from either two places, the Upper East Side or the Upper West Side - of New York, and not New Delhi. Put one way, there are enough guys wearing Brooks Brothers in NYC to fill the need at Columbia. Put another way, there are not enough Indian bankers (from India) out there to really make a compelling case for a Wall Street recruiter (most Indians from India elect to move into IT/engineering upon graduation from uni) to start looking in Guwahati. If recruiters are not looking for it, then Columbia is not looking for it. The school's admissions is so lock-step with their career center (and local Wall Street alumni) it's like looking at Chang and Eng, or was it Eng and Chang (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chang_and_Eng_Bunker).

Still not convinced? Well I'm glad you're still reading dreamchase .... so check it - alternatively, peep this - Columbia does not have a Technology Area of Study. FO' REALS lil' dreamychizzle - seriously, reference their Areas of Study - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_Business_School#Areas_of_focus. Oh snap, now ain't that some buuuullshieeeet? The whole world gone crazy ... But I digress.

So let's play make-believe for a second. Indulge me please.
Let's say that an overwhelming majority of Indian applicants (again, from India) have a propensity towards technical degrees (such as engineering/CS) and careers in Information Technology (again, just indulge me for a second longer.) This means that anyone applying with a technical background (let's just say Indian - but it could be anyone with a tech background) is at a disadvantage at CBS, because they simply don't have the Technology Management track that would directly feed them into a tech industry. Now, I suppose you could say - well, what if an Indian (from India and for the sake of this make-believe example) wants to move into finance? Well, that just isn't going to work either - for anyone. CBS doesn't want career changers (note - the whole career center thing), instead they want sure bets (game changers like Sarah Palin.)

So given the hypothetical example above, you should be able to see why CBS may (or may not) have a lot of Indian (from India) graduates or Indian graduates in finance.

Bottom line, you are confusing causality - mixing up cart and horse.
Capish?

Besides, CBS does have non-discrimination policy, so they are cool (ref: https://www7.gsb.columbia.edu/recruiters/policies/compliance)

Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

dreamchase wrote:
Dear Paul,

I do not find many Columbia alumni from Indian origin, and that is not the case with other top schools such as Harvard or Stanford.
Almost all of the few Indian Columbia Alumni have either grown up in US or have done their undergrad from US.
Is there a particular aversion toward Indian applicants at Columbia ?

_________________

Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Manager
Joined: 26 Jun 2011
Posts: 249
Location: India
GMAT 1: 760 Q51 V41
Followers: 13

Kudos [?]: 74 [1] , given: 26

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14 Sep 2012, 04:42
1
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Hello Paul,
Thanks for the elaborate and equally interesting response.

Quote:
Put another way, there are not enough Indian bankers (from India) out there to really make a compelling case for a Wall Street recruiter (most Indians from India elect to move into IT/engineering upon graduation from uni) to start looking in Guwahati.

It is surprising for me to see that coming from you. I know atleast 25 people from my college (one of the IITs) alone who have made compelling cases for top B schools (with or without prior Fin experience) and have made their ways into top Wall street names.

Quote:
This means that anyone applying with a technical background (let's just say Indian - but it could be anyone with a tech background) is at a disadvantage at CBS, because they simply don't have the Technology Management track that would directly feed them into a tech industry. Now, I suppose you could say - well, what if an Indian (from India and for the sake of this make-believe example) wants to move into finance? Well, that just isn't going to work either - for anyone. CBS doesn't want career changers (note - the whole career center thing), instead they want sure bets (game changers like Sarah Palin.)

You have narrowed down the discussion to "moving into finance". Unfortunately, that was not the area of concern. Also, it may be tempting to assign Eng-Chang analogy to Finance-Columbia, but the employment reports suggest otherwise. Columbia sends almost the same fraction of its students (1% give and take) to Finance, Consulting, or General Mgmt. as does any other top 5 school. Coming to a slightly diff example, let's say Indian students working with best names in FMCGs, Oil & Gas or Manufacturing apply to Columbia with aspirations of moving into Consulting or GM. You say, sure bets - they are pretty close to sure bets, I have seen this happening all the time from other top 5-10 schools.

Fall back to the original question - the large majority of the above pool happens to exist in H/S/W/Kell. But Columbia? - I would not put my money on that ! And that is, in my constricted opinion, aversion.

I enjoyed reading your first response. Would you like to have a second take on this, Paul ?
_________________

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Joined: 25 Jan 2010
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14 Sep 2012, 11:29
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Expert's post
Hey dreamchase,

Thanks for giving me a second chance at answering your question - I appreciate it. At a high-level, things are not as conveniently packaged as one might think.

So you know at least 25 people? Well I don't have access to that data set.

So you tell me - what correlation do you see between their individual data and Columbia or the schools that they have been accepted to?
You know multi-linear variate regression than I do. Is there an outlier school? So for example, is HBS taking Indian banking consultants at a higher rate than CBS?
Did these fellow IIT students get accepted to CBS and then elect to go to HBS or Stanford?
It runs both ways you know. Did they make CBS know that they were their number 1 choice or did they make CBS feel like a red-headed step child?

Additionally, did all 25 say that they wanted to go into banking or did they get into school and make the switch?
For that matter, did they even apply to CBS?
Another point - what % were in financial services to begin with. Was it 24/15? Was it 1/25?
One more thing - can you tell me what the effects of the co-signer policy is on Indian/international applicants?

Keep in mind that the above questions are rhetorical. I don't actually expect you to go out and find that data. It sounds more like a research project.

The other problem is that you introduce no evidence that Columbia is in fact against ("aversion") Indian applicants - just your view of the world. In turn, I am providing my view of the world based on my experiences. So I am in fact defending against something we really don't know if true. That is why it is hard for me to produce evidence disproving your hypothesis. I can only produce my own theories - which could always be dis-proven by cherry-picking data, because they may be addressing a problem that does not even exist. For example, you stated "You have narrowed down the discussion to "moving into finance"." Word? You gave me three sentences to go on when you asked your question - so I have to define the scope of my answer else it would have been longer than the Bible.

You're basically asking me a question by providing me little information. It's literally an impossible question to answer with 100% certainty because of that. You will always be able to find a way to introduce a caveat that disproves my answer. That's certainly your prerogative. If you have already concluded that CBS is discriminatory and want me to agree with you - well then I don't agree because I can't find evidence of it.

Finally - you have to be careful with the research that you do conduct. Numbers/facts are nothing without context. In fact, they can be extremely misleading - intentionally or unintentionally on your part. The 1% statistic you quote is not correct in all cases - most notably with HBS.
You state absolutely that CBS has approximately the same number of people going into consulting/banking/GM as does any other school. So let's compare HBS with CBS - indulge me. It's clear they do not - HBS sends about 35% of their class into finance (http://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/mba/data- ... stics.html), while CBS sends 50.2% (https://www7.gsb.columbia.edu/recruiter ... _Final.pdf). Seriously dreamchase, that is a big difference - much greater than 1% you quoted. Another important statistic is to look at industries that CBS sources its applicants from - only 7.2% come from technology.

This is really what it comes down to - CBS is dominated by financial services/FRC consultants/bankers/related industries from NYC and the Northeast. That is it. The people you know are not bankers from NYC, for the most part they are from IIT. That is not what CBS is looking for. Yes, I get that CBS has a 40% international rep, but what does that mean? It means they are pulling a large % of that from internationals in the demographic I mentioned above (ie. Expats).

Well, I gave it my best shot dreamchase. Thanks for your time.

Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

dreamchase wrote:
Hello Paul,
Thanks for the elaborate and equally interesting response.

Quote:
Put another way, there are not enough Indian bankers (from India) out there to really make a compelling case for a Wall Street recruiter (most Indians from India elect to move into IT/engineering upon graduation from uni) to start looking in Guwahati.

It is surprising for me to see that coming from you. I know atleast 25 people from my college (one of the IITs) alone who have made compelling cases for top B schools (with or without prior Fin experience) and have made their ways into top Wall street names.

Quote:
This means that anyone applying with a technical background (let's just say Indian - but it could be anyone with a tech background) is at a disadvantage at CBS, because they simply don't have the Technology Management track that would directly feed them into a tech industry. Now, I suppose you could say - well, what if an Indian (from India and for the sake of this make-believe example) wants to move into finance? Well, that just isn't going to work either - for anyone. CBS doesn't want career changers (note - the whole career center thing), instead they want sure bets (game changers like Sarah Palin.)

You have narrowed down the discussion to "moving into finance". Unfortunately, that was not the area of concern. Also, it may be tempting to assign Eng-Chang analogy to Finance-Columbia, but the employment reports suggest otherwise. Columbia sends almost the same fraction of its students (1% give and take) to Finance, Consulting, or General Mgmt. as does any other top 5 school. Coming to a slightly diff example, let's say Indian students working with best names in FMCGs, Oil & Gas or Manufacturing apply to Columbia with aspirations of moving into Consulting or GM. You say, sure bets - they are pretty close to sure bets, I have seen this happening all the time from other top 5-10 schools.

Fall back to the original question - the large majority of the above pool happens to exist in H/S/W/Kell. But Columbia? - I would not put my money on that ! And that is, in my constricted opinion, aversion.

I enjoyed reading your first response. Would you like to have a second take on this, Paul ?

_________________

Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Manager
Joined: 26 Jun 2011
Posts: 249
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Kudos [?]: 74 [0], given: 26

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26 Sep 2012, 12:59
Apologies for the delay, Paul. I am too packed with the application of the same god damned CBS with its deadline on Oct 3rd.

I am tempted to handpick lines from your response and argue against them, but then I get it. We will end up proving or disproving the theories on an issue that is ridiculously abstract, subjective and maybe biased to prejudices.

In light of the second half of your response, to sum up the discussion, can we very loosely/vaguely agree on the motion that :
Non - bankers, financial services people with non-US citizenship are better off applying to other schools in the top-5 bracket such as H/S/W/Kellogg than Columbia.

I know how Pro-consultants are experts at dodging "what are my chances" questions, but I'd like to have your say on this. Fit, goals, what-you-want-to-do-with-your-life are other important things, but as it has been a topic to assess "aversion " it shall end with a chance assessment as its logical end.

Thanks for writing. I hardly see you devoting that much time on other posts.
_________________

The chase begins ...

Joined: 25 Jan 2010
Posts: 925
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Kudos [?]: 212 [0], given: 218

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27 Sep 2012, 17:03
Hey dreamchase,

You are the man!

Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

dreamchase wrote:
Apologies for the delay, Paul. I am too packed with the application of the same god damned CBS with its deadline on Oct 3rd.

I am tempted to handpick lines from your response and argue against them, but then I get it. We will end up proving or disproving the theories on an issue that is ridiculously abstract, subjective and maybe biased to prejudices.

In light of the second half of your response, to sum up the discussion, can we very loosely/vaguely agree on the motion that :
Non - bankers, financial services people with non-US citizenship are better off applying to other schools in the top-5 bracket such as H/S/W/Kellogg than Columbia.

I know how Pro-consultants are experts at dodging "what are my chances" questions, but I'd like to have your say on this. Fit, goals, what-you-want-to-do-with-your-life are other important things, but as it has been a topic to assess "aversion " it shall end with a chance assessment as its logical end.

Thanks for writing. I hardly see you devoting that much time on other posts.

_________________

Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

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