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Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA...

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Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 16:41
Hello,

So, here it goes. I made a bad decision when I was younger and got a PhD in molecular biology (but did so in just 3.25 years, haha, clearly some talent there). In my second-third year of grad school I realized that I didn't want to do research, and definitely not in academia. Industry might have been OK, but the catch comes here - turns out it's nearly impossible to get a PhD level position at a company without doing an academic post-doc for 3 years (read: more misery). I'm just not thrilled about publishing more papers that no one reads. And not getting paid for it. So at the time I graduated with the PhD I was set on going into consulting, and conveniently M/B/B recruits PhDs. I made it to the final round at McKinsey and then they told me to go to B-school first... Ever since it's been a struggle for me to prepare myself for a top B-school and start doing something I would actually enjoy.

In terms of career goals, I would still love to go into consulting, it thrills me. Otherwise I would stick to what I'm familiar with - Pharma/Biotech, but in a management role - like brand/product manager, manufacturing, logistics. Long-term I'd want to do strategic planning. (From informational interviews I gathered that with a purely research background it's only possible to get a management position if you are already inside the company, or have some amazing connections; hence I'm looking to get a business education).

Stats:
Female, 27yo.
Graduated from a top uni in Russia with Honors (GPA 4.8/5.0) in Biophysics - 2007
Graduated from a PhD program at a top-tier uni in US (GPA 3.8/4.0), and did research at a Cancer Center - 2010
Post-doc at the same Cancer Center 2011-2012 (1yr)
And finally just started a (post-doc) position at a well-known amazing Biotech company, but this is a purely research role with close to zero opportunity to do "business" or "leadership" stuff.
I never took the GMAT, but my GRE was Q 800 and V 610, which converts to around 700-710 on the GMAT (if I can pull it off again). But I would probably try to target 720-730.
International experiences include living-working in Russia, USA and Japan (won a fellowship to do some research in Tokyo)

ECs include:
Board member on the Student-postdoc advisory committee at my past institution - 1yr
Co-chair/Board member on a Women in Science Organization - 1yr (and hope to continue)
Volunteering at a Science Museum for 3-4 yrs.
Random hobbies such as playing piano, swimming, competing in equestrian sports, scuba diving (but who cares about these!)

Oh, and I was on the wait-list at Darden last year (after interview). This cycle they were not interested in me, even though I felt that I improved my application multiple times :(

The schools that I'm interested in are MIT-Sloan, Tuck, Darden, Fuqua, Kellog, INSEAD, and maybe some other European schools, such as HEC, ISE, LBS... May be willing to go to UW-Foster for local networking in the Seattle area (but from what I heard I can cross off a career in pharma/biotech if I do that).

Tips/suggestions/advice?? Should I try applying again this year? Or wait to get more work-experience? Is it even valuable in a purely research role? Apply to 15-30 ranked schools?
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 17:36
Define 'top tier uni in the US' - this plays an important role when applying to elite business schools (H/S/W/MIT).

Wharton takes PhDs regularly, I know several who have completed their PhD, done a year or 2 of post-doc work and then have been admitted to Wharton. Conveying why you want an MBA is extremely important since you will be a non-traditional candidate, stating that academia/research is not for you is essentially the kiss of death. You need to show that you can use your science background to have an impact in other ways.

Staying in a post-doc role is also not going to help things. You need to be in a position of leadership, or at least take some on via other avenues at the company.

Edit: Also, why not reapply to M/B/B? They take tons of PhDs without business backgrounds, I have no idea why you were told to go to B-school.
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 19:09
Hello,

I agree with comments of Sid05, he has given very good insights.

A few points

1) You may have individual story/like/dislike of why Ph.D is not what you want to do, and MBA is the destination, but believe me you will have to come out a very story to prove why you wanna do MBA. Your goals must SCREAM the need for MBA education in your short term and long term goals, if this happens, you are through.

2) I am not getting exactly how much work ex do you have, but mostly all top b-schools have requirement of 2/3 years, now this experience does not NECESSARILY require to be in the role of business only. Top schools choose BEST talent from the respective field, so excel at whatever you are doing and PROVE it in your apps

3) I would suggest you to think what you wanna do post MBA, and start taking some initiatives at work to show in future (when you apply) that you are so SERIOUS and PASSIONATE about your goals. e.g. if you wanna get into products post MBA, why not to get some involvement at your current company in one or another way, am sure those product guys will be happy to have you as a part of team (be it formally INFORMAL even), but this action will help you craft a lot in your stories.

Does this help ?

Keep us updated

Thanks
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 19:11
sid05 wrote:
Define 'top tier uni in the US' - this plays an important role when applying to elite business schools (H/S/W/MIT).

Wharton takes PhDs regularly, I know several who have completed their PhD, done a year or 2 of post-doc work and then have been admitted to Wharton. Conveying why you want an MBA is extremely important since you will be a non-traditional candidate, stating that academia/research is not for you is essentially the kiss of death. You need to show that you can use your science background to have an impact in other ways.

Staying in a post-doc role is also not going to help things. You need to be in a position of leadership, or at least take some on via other avenues at the company.

Edit: Also, why not reapply to M/B/B? They take tons of PhDs without business backgrounds, I have no idea why you were told to go to B-school.


Top-tier = University of Washington+Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I was in an HHMI lab, if that tells anyone anything, got a Nature paper, gave a talk at a high-profile conference, blah-blah-blah... in other words, I did well for grad school, and got out quickly.

Yes, staying as a post-doc is less than ideal, but this is my only good connection to the industry, so I didn't have much choice in terms of jobs :( This company is weird, they like to call themselves "academic", and as long as I'm in the research division I'm not supposed to be interested in business, sigh. I was going for the brand name here, but maybe I should look for a totally different job altogether. Suggestions?

RE: M/B/B, I think I'm already marked down for McKinsey. I applied to Bridge2BCG this year, and got wait-listed, haha, my favorite hang out place! (And then rejected, but encouraged to apply for full-time in the Fall). I guess I was told at McKinsey to go to B-school because they thought I didn't do well with cases? Who knows. This was also for the Moscow office, I don't think they normally hire PhDs. But consulting recruitment is a mysterious process in general, and the odds for PhDs are really not that high because there is so much interest. It bums be out that I'm labeled "overqualified" for anything less than M/B/B, e.g. Accenture and the like wouldn't even look at me.
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 19:23
n03 wrote:
Top-tier = University of Washington+Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I was in an HHMI lab, if that tells anyone anything, got a Nature paper, gave a talk at a high-profile conference, blah-blah-blah... in other words, I did well for grad school, and got out quickly.


The challenge here is that in the business world, this is all virtually meaningless, unfortunately. Not to slight your accomplishments in the least (I have science background also), but the lab quality/Nature paper/conference is not really something that adcoms recognize. It also why M/B/B only target PhDs from Ivy/MIT/Stanford/Caltech.

n03 wrote:
Yes, staying as a post-doc is less than ideal, but this is my only good connection to the industry, so I didn't have much choice in terms of jobs :( This company is weird, they like to call themselves "academic", and as long as I'm in the research division I'm not supposed to be interested in business, sigh. I was going for the brand name here, but maybe I should look for a totally different job altogether. Suggestions?


Yes, if you want to get out of research and don't have any avenues at your job (even informally) then you should look for a new job. Academic research/science is difficult to get out of once you are in it for a long time, and really the only route is to become a research scientist or a faculty member (the latter being obviously difficult in today's market, and it doesn't seem like something you want to do anyway).

n03 wrote:
RE: M/B/B, I think I'm already marked down for McKinsey. I applied to Bridge2BCG this year, and got wait-listed, haha, my favorite hang out place! (And then rejected, but encouraged to apply for full-time in the Fall). I guess I was told at McKinsey to go to B-school because they thought I didn't do well with cases? Who knows. This was also for the Moscow office, I don't think they normally hire PhDs. But consulting recruitment is a mysterious process in general, and the odds for PhDs are really not that high because there is so much interest. It bums be out that I'm labeled "overqualified" for anything less than M/B/B, e.g. Accenture and the like wouldn't even look at me.


If you didn't do well on cases, you just need to practice. Not sure about international offices, but recruitment at the US offices is pretty standard. You are interviewed at the same level as an MBA but you are not expected to have any in-depth business knowledge (it's just a plus). The odds for PhDs are only low because there really aren't that many good candidates, most are just not business minded and it shows when doing a case interview. If you prep well, getting a job from one of these firms is very attainable. If you strike out again, try boutique life science consulting firms. There are a lot of them and they frequently hire PhDs.
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 21:03
Thank you all for the replies and advice! Let say if I want to apply "as is" this fall - which schools would you recommend?
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2012, 04:13
You need to come up with a good reason why an MBA makes sense. Then apply to schools with a healthcare focus (e.g. Duke).
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2012, 04:43
You are definitely a non-trad'l applicant, but that doesn't mean it's doom and gloom. I agree with the insights that Sid has already mentioned, so I won't repeat anything. But because your background is unconventional, it makes things kind of a crap shoot to some degree. Because of that, my reco is that you target a larger breadth of schools. The ones you've mentioned are all top 15ish, so maybe you go deeper into the rankings and hit closer to top 20?

when you submit your app, here's what the adcom will think about you:
(1) Brilliant. She'll get the work done, and most likely ace her classes.
(2) Leadership potential as evidenced in her classwork...but not relevant for a business world. This is why this piece is hard.
(3) ECs: Ok.
(4) Focus. Unless you can give a clear, compelling reason for getting your MBA, you'll get dinged here. So make sure your story is crisp and tight on this.

The biggest challenge is that you'll be a recruiting risk to the program. If you're not focused, you'll end up spending all kinds of time with the career counselors and suck up a lot of time. Schools don't like to admit this as an issue, but it's true. Same goes for apps with low grades doing the same thing with profs. As long as you can demonstrate a clear focus, you might stand a shot. I assume you're pretty good at that though, b/c you write well and you almost already got into Darden!
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA...   [#permalink] 15 Jun 2012, 04:43
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