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Profile Evaluation - CPA in Tech Startup

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Profile Evaluation - CPA in Tech Startup [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2012, 16:12
Hi,

I am a Canadian CPA with 3 years of audit experience as a senior accountant in Big 4 and currently working as a financial analyst for 2 years in a very fast growing post-startup tech company (top 3 tech in 50 fastest growing companies in North America). I am currently overseeing the financial side of foreign operations therefore mostly work with USA & Europe with some Asia so I have a lot of international exposure.

I would hope to get in MIT, Columbia or NYU (in order of preference) to go in IB but I was wondering what top US schools might favor people who worked in the tech industry with my profile?

GPA : 3.72 understand (BBA) and 3.83 Graduate Degree (accounting) GMAT: 710
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Re: Profile Evaluation - CPA in Tech Startup [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2012, 18:12
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Hi!

Thanks for sharing this information. Without knowing more about your profile it is really difficult to give you guidance on the schools you might be looked favorably upon. The start-up experience is going to be great - you'll have really good professional stories to tell (though in a finance/accounting role you might struggle a bit more to come up with strong team stories -- hopefully that's not the case, as it is a start-up, after all!). If I assume that you have no extracurricular or community activities, then you'll have a tough time at any top tier schools. Basically, based on the information I have, you'll have a pretty strong professional profile and a strong academic profile (assuming your quant and verbal scores weren't highly skewed). But if you didn't actually found the start-up that you are working at, it will be difficult to justify having no extracurricular or community activities, so top schools may be tough.

To get to the real heart of your question, "which schools might favor my profile?," the real answer is none. Don't panic -- what I mean by that is that schools do not seek out particular profiles for their class. They are looking for diversity -- HBS doesn't want a whole class of 900 consultants as much as Kellogg doesn't want a class full of former marketers! So, no worries there - what you do for work is much less important than how well you do it. The most important thing is to demonstrate that you are a rock star at your job, you are a leader in your community, you are a passionate individual who lives life to the fullest (engaged in extracurriculars, etc.), and that you are an intelligent and highly analytic person (as demonstrated by GPA, GMAT, recommendations, etc.) What I worry about with your profile is the lack of dimensionality -- if you truly lack post-college extracurriculars and community activities, then your target schools will be a bit of a stretch. I'd recommend adding some other schools to the list that are slightly lower tier -- Michigan, UVA, UCLA, Cornell, etc. Georgetown might be a good one to consider for international business specifically, though this could probably be a 'safety' school.

Good luck,
Mili
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Re: Profile Evaluation - CPA in Tech Startup [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2012, 19:22
mbaMissionMili wrote:
Hi!

Thanks for sharing this information. Without knowing more about your profile it is really difficult to give you guidance on the schools you might be looked favorably upon. The start-up experience is going to be great - you'll have really good professional stories to tell (though in a finance/accounting role you might struggle a bit more to come up with strong team stories -- hopefully that's not the case, as it is a start-up, after all!). If I assume that you have no extracurricular or community activities, then you'll have a tough time at any top tier schools. Basically, based on the information I have, you'll have a pretty strong professional profile and a strong academic profile (assuming your quant and verbal scores weren't highly skewed). But if you didn't actually found the start-up that you are working at, it will be difficult to justify having no extracurricular or community activities, so top schools may be tough.

To get to the real heart of your question, "which schools might favor my profile?," the real answer is none. Don't panic -- what I mean by that is that schools do not seek out particular profiles for their class. They are looking for diversity -- HBS doesn't want a whole class of 900 consultants as much as Kellogg doesn't want a class full of former marketers! So, no worries there - what you do for work is much less important than how well you do it. The most important thing is to demonstrate that you are a rock star at your job, you are a leader in your community, you are a passionate individual who lives life to the fullest (engaged in extracurriculars, etc.), and that you are an intelligent and highly analytic person (as demonstrated by GPA, GMAT, recommendations, etc.) What I worry about with your profile is the lack of dimensionality -- if you truly lack post-college extracurriculars and community activities, then your target schools will be a bit of a stretch. I'd recommend adding some other schools to the list that are slightly lower tier -- Michigan, UVA, UCLA, Cornell, etc. Georgetown might be a good one to consider for international business specifically, though this could probably be a 'safety' school.

Good luck,
Mili
Senior Consultant
mbaMission


I am sorry I should have provided a more detailed explanation of my experiences. I could say I went from a very structured environment which was KPMG where I was able to work with several clients in the tech industry and learn a lot of the best practices to a very entrepreneurial fast growing company. Given it is fast growing and well financed there is always new projects and opportunities to implement best practices in the industry.

I guess the concern is more over my leadership skills and teamwork given my experience and not community work?

Leadership and teamwork skills

KPMG
- 1 in 5 canadians selected for fast forward leadership program with KPMG in Hollywood California
- promoted twice in a single year to from junior to senior accountant where I lead teams of 5 accountants on several large projects

Current Tech company (joined following investment of several venture capital firms to support long term growth)
- integrated financial activities and trained accounting staff for a company we purchased in Sweden (also performed due diligence, valuation and setup reporting process although all documents were in Swedish)
- setup an entity an Ireland to support our sales and business development in Europe (activity from 0$ to 13 M$ over course of 1 year) and developed financial operations/infrastructure in over 6 countries
- trained several staff given headcount doubled in size almost every year
- supervised or directed accounting staff, administrative staff, consultants and lawyers across the world simultaneously to expand operations in new countries (99% sales international)
- involved in several projects not related to accounting such as: ERP implementation, setting up a warehouse in Europe with the logistics department, analyzing costs/benefits of hiring employees in different countries with HR,...
The company is truly a success story started from a engineer's basement to a global company with sales in over 40 countries and achieving a valuation of approx 100M$ in 4.5 years. My role from the beginning has been to design and setup processes and implementing best practices not executing routine tasks...

Community involvement
- one of the organizers for a tax clinic to provide free tax advice for low income individuals during tax period
- worked part time while working full time to correct business cases at my university to help prepare students for CPA exam
- joined the coaching program entire time I was at KPMG to help new hires deal with CPA exam where I gave group and individual classes
- also setup a CPA training program in my company where we have already began to train new CPAs

I hope this gives a clearer picture and I must admit my community involvement could be better (I have very rarely worked under 12 hours a day in my current position) but I have really lead large and complex projects. Maybe I could work more on my GMAT because I would not go outside the top 10 in the USA...

I really appreciate the feedback

Thanks!!!
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Re: Profile Evaluation - CPA in Tech Startup [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2012, 05:54
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This is helpful info! Seems like you do have a very robust set of leadership stories to tell from your start-up role, and some consistent community work that's very related to your field. My only concern then lies with the 'one dimensionality' of your profile: you could come across as a CPA and only a CPA, especially because all of your community work is also related to that work. You'll really want to focus on bringing in your own personal passions and personal stories into your application, too, so that you don't come across as just a rock star CPA. You'll have great professional stories, but these need to be complemented with great personal and extracurricular stories to show who YOU are, not just what your profession is.

Hope this helps!
Mili
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