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Help Identifying What is Stretch

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Help Identifying What is Stretch [#permalink] New post 29 Oct 2010, 03:59
Hi Paul,

If you could provide some feedback for me, I'd love to get some suggestions of schools to apply to. I am thinking of these schools in 3 rough categories:
1. Reasonable Stretches (2-3 schools)
2. Good Chance of being accepted (2-3 schools)
3. Safety Schools (1-2 schools)

Below is my profile. If any large components are missing, please let me know. I'd love to go to a top tier U.S. school (Booth and Stanford are at the top of my list) but I'm not sure if this is too much of a stretch. I'm concerned about my undergrad GPA, and the fact that I work for a relatively unknown company.

Any additional thoughts, suggestions, or comments are much appreciated :)

PROFILE

POST-MBA Goals:
1. Entrepreneurship
2. Management Consulting

DEMOGRAPHICS

Age: 25
Sex: Male
Race: Mixed Philipino-Indian; born in Canada
Languages: English, French
Born: Toronto, Canada

ACADEMICS

Top-Tier Canadian Business Undergrad: Queen's University 2007
Student Exchange to HEC Paris in 2006

4-year GPA: 79.4% or roughly 3.3 (I'm not sure exactly where the conversion stands);
Last Two Years: 82%

GMAT: 720 (Q46, V42) / 6.0 AWA

WORK EXPERIENCE

3 years at a large Canadian technology company (TSX: CSU) in Business Development and M&A. The company acquires, builds, and manages portfolio companies.

Synopsis: Extensive business development experience in technology, with end-to-end hands-on experience in the M&A life cycle (sourcing acquisitions, valuation, negotiation, due diligence, post-merger integration, operational improvement) and proven results of improving portfolio businesses

2010 - Business Development Manager
- lead team at an acquisition to grow recurring revenues by 30% through pricing optimization plan
- voted MVP for Q2 2010
- sourced acquisitions

2009 - Operations Manager
- responsible for professional services, support, marketing and administration divisions for a portfolio company
- grew recurring revenues by 75%

2008 - Business Development / M&A Analyst
- M&A valuation, due diligence and post-merger integration
- began as inside sales, but was promoted to work with acquisitions due to demonstrated leadership potential


VOLUNTEER

Consultant, Endeavour Consulting for Non-Profits
- part of pro bono consulting team that is currently developing a strategic plan for a non-profit called PAAC (Public Affairs Association of Canada), which is a professional development association for public affairs professionals

Board of Directors, Youth Assisting Youth (YAY)
- helped re-brand and re-position YAY to potential donors in the corporate sector; results tbd
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Posts: 840
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Re: Help Identifying What is Stretch [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2010, 01:52
Expert's post
sanka:
I love the Filipino/Indian mix. I'm sure there is an interesting story around that. I am mixed as well, so I thought I would give you props on that.

There is nothing in your profile that would exclude you from a top 10 school. On paper, your stats look great. The key with you is going to be in identifying your fit.
This introduces the concept of "parallelism." With parallelism, you weave in your own personal experiences with what the school offers. This is why school selection (demonstrated fit) is a critical component to determining your range of schools. Let me break this down to you in a simple terms as possible, so that I don't look like I am talking out of my ass. Consultants can have a tendency to do that sometimes. :)

Example that I made up: Tuck's collaborative learning environment appeals to me. As a consultant, I have worked in small team environments. I have gained a lot in these experiences, both in developing my leadership strengths and in addressing my weaknesses. This is why I believe that I will be a contributor within these smalls teams and in collaboration with my Tuck colleagues.
Hopefully you see how you have woven in your experiences with the culture or setup of the school. some clients will take the approach of just simply listing at tuck is collaborative. However, this ends up being a laundry list of facts about the school. You demonstrate no insight into the schools culture and its applicability to your own experiences. This is a critical differentiator between who has internalized what the school has to offer vs. who can read a website and generate a laundry list. BTW, don't be the guy you can generate a laundry list -- just to be clear.

This brings me to my main point (finally!) you have to pick schools that offer what you need. So how do you know what you need? This all depends on your career goals. In formulating your career goals, make sure that they build off of your current work experiences. Do not introduce any non sequitur goals. If they do not logically follow what you are doing, you will be incrementally less competitive than your fellow applicants whose goals to build upon what they have been doing. This is a real challenge with nontraditional applicants. However, from what I can tell, you are a reasonably traditional applicant. What I mean is that you are not a big question mark to the admissions committee.

So I see your career goals but they are not specific enough for me to a lot of guidance. what does "entrepreneurship" mean to you?

If I had to make some up for you, I would say that they lie within private equity. Specifically, I would say that your short-term goal is to work as an associate within a private equity firm and your long-term goal is to pursue a career in venture capital. I am just making these up, you have to decide for yourself. It's not my life, after all. :)

But if you do decide on these types of goals, you are going to want to take down a program that has a strength in entrepreneurial finance. I would think of the usual suspects -- Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Chicago and even MIT. I would consider these stretch schools. for your good chance schools, I would look at strong programs that are located near the industry you want to be in. What are your thoughts on Haas, Anderson and NYU? I would consider Anderson and NYU as safety schools as well.

Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

sanka wrote:
Hi Paul,

If you could provide some feedback for me, I'd love to get some suggestions of schools to apply to. I am thinking of these schools in 3 rough categories:
1. Reasonable Stretches (2-3 schools)
2. Good Chance of being accepted (2-3 schools)
3. Safety Schools (1-2 schools)

Below is my profile. If any large components are missing, please let me know. I'd love to go to a top tier U.S. school (Booth and Stanford are at the top of my list) but I'm not sure if this is too much of a stretch. I'm concerned about my undergrad GPA, and the fact that I work for a relatively unknown company.

Any additional thoughts, suggestions, or comments are much appreciated :)

PROFILE

POST-MBA Goals:
1. Entrepreneurship
2. Management Consulting

DEMOGRAPHICS

Age: 25
Sex: Male
Race: Mixed Philipino-Indian; born in Canada
Languages: English, French
Born: Toronto, Canada

ACADEMICS

Top-Tier Canadian Business Undergrad: Queen's University 2007
Student Exchange to HEC Paris in 2006

4-year GPA: 79.4% or roughly 3.3 (I'm not sure exactly where the conversion stands);
Last Two Years: 82%

GMAT: 720 (Q46, V42) / 6.0 AWA

WORK EXPERIENCE

3 years at a large Canadian technology company (TSX: CSU) in Business Development and M&A. The company acquires, builds, and manages portfolio companies.

Synopsis: Extensive business development experience in technology, with end-to-end hands-on experience in the M&A life cycle (sourcing acquisitions, valuation, negotiation, due diligence, post-merger integration, operational improvement) and proven results of improving portfolio businesses

2010 - Business Development Manager
- lead team at an acquisition to grow recurring revenues by 30% through pricing optimization plan
- voted MVP for Q2 2010
- sourced acquisitions

2009 - Operations Manager
- responsible for professional services, support, marketing and administration divisions for a portfolio company
- grew recurring revenues by 75%

2008 - Business Development / M&A Analyst
- M&A valuation, due diligence and post-merger integration
- began as inside sales, but was promoted to work with acquisitions due to demonstrated leadership potential


VOLUNTEER

Consultant, Endeavour Consulting for Non-Profits
- part of pro bono consulting team that is currently developing a strategic plan for a non-profit called PAAC (Public Affairs Association of Canada), which is a professional development association for public affairs professionals

Board of Directors, Youth Assisting Youth (YAY)
- helped re-brand and re-position YAY to potential donors in the corporate sector; results tbd

_________________


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

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Re: Help Identifying What is Stretch [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2010, 19:41
Hello Paul,

Thanks so much for your post. And extra thanks for the props. You know what - being mixed in Canada is not a huge deal. Particularly in Toronto where I was born, there are a lot of mixed couples, so I have never really thought of it as that unique. Nevertheless, I think I am fairly culturally adaptable and I believe a lot of that has to do with struggling to understand what aunts or uncles were saying to me, starting to get used to it, and then having to completely switch gears to a different language and culture the next night.

But, I digress, so on to your main point -- Fit, parallelism, and my career goals. I appreciate your comments about me not being a big question mark to the admissions committee. However, I must say that I was hoping to bring out a little bit more of a "unique" experience, or alternatively a little more 'wow' factor, in my career thus far. To flush this out, it might help for me to explain a little bit more about the company I work for, and why I think the experience I have had is unique compared to the experiences of my peers.

The company I work for is not a brand name company and is not known to the general population outside of the finance community. However, the company is Canada's third largest software company. The company acquires software companies that focus on very specific vertical markets (e.g. marina software, public transportation software, wine production software, etc.) and builds them to generate strong cash flows over the long term. I have been involved on the M&A or deal side (sourcing acquisitions, preparing valuation models, being on-site for due diligence) but most of my time is spent on the operations side improving the companies we acquire. In two cases (and hopefully soon a third), I have assumed a leadership role within our acquired companies as (this might not be the right word) a "turnaround CEO or manager". Essentially, I see myself as a younger and clearly less accomplished version of Lou Gerstner, who is largely credited with rescuing IBM from the brink of collapse and building it into the powerhouse it is today.

Compared to the majority of my business school colleagues, I think this experience is unique for a number of reasons. First, from what I gather, most people in Venture Capital or Private Equity with under 5-10 years experience are essentially analysts and they spend the majority of their time on one particular segment of M&A - valuation, due diligence, etc. Very few would have had the opportunity to go from cradle to grave, which I have done, from sourcing acquisitions by cold-calling entrepreneurs through to gathering due diligence and executing the deals. Second, and maybe most important, even fewer of my colleagues at this stage in their careers, have led companies through a takeover, gained the trust of founding entrepreneurs who have run their companies their way for 20+ years, and then actually brought about real improvements in (formerly) their businesses. I think I have had excellent preparation for any aspiring entrepreneur, short of actually founding or failing at founding a successful company from scratch.

The above was maybe too long-winded of an approach to get to my career goals. The primary reason I am pursuing my MBA is to develop my network and meet co-founders that are willing to take the leap of starting a high-growth business along with me. I whole heartedly believe that successful entrepreneurs make the best VC's as they are able to provide so much more than just capital. As a result, in the medium to long-term my goals are to use my entrepreneurial experiences to help others found their own high-growth businesses. In the longer term, I would love to be involved with a foundation similar to the Kauffman Foundation, and help others create high-growth businesses through advocacy, research and education. While this is Plan A, I realize that not everyone can be the next 'Entrepreneur of the Year', so my fallback plan would be to go into management consulting. Even going into management consulting would really be a second attempt to meet co-founders if I did not find them during my MBA.

So Paul - I've kind of laid it all out on the line. Am I completely out to lunch? Do my qualifications not have the appeal I think they should have? Are my career goals too far-reaching? With all that said, are there any schools you would suggest I add to my short list? (1) Don't worry, please be candid. (2) I know these are very personal questions, so I'm more asking for your opinion from the point of view of an admissions consultant, and not necessarily from the point of view of whether this is a realistic plan, although if you have feedback from that angle too, I'm eager to hear those too.

As of today (unfortunately, this list has changed a few times during the past week and it is likely to change some more), my short list is as follows:
Super-Reach
- Stanford
Reaches
- Booth
- Kellogg
Good Chance
- Berkeley
- University of Toronto
- Ivey (University of Western Ontario)
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