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Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA...

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Joined: 24 Mar 2011
Posts: 36
Location: United States
Concentration: Healthcare
GPA: 3.8
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Kudos [?]: 5 [0], given: 0

Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2012, 10:38
Hi Alex! As a non-traditional applicant, I am looking for some professional advice:

So, here it goes. I made a bad decision when I was younger and got a PhD in molecular biology straight from undergrad (but got the PhD 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 turned me down with the advice of going to B-school...

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, general management, marketing. Long-term I'd want to do strategic planning, global business development - is this too ambitious? (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 Eastern Europe 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 :( Very disappointing.

The schools that I'm interested in are MIT-Sloan, Tuck, Darden, Wharton, Booth, Fuqua, Kellog, INSEAD, and maybe some other European schools, such as HEC, ISE, LBS (for the sake of networking in Europe)... May be willing to go to UW-Foster for local networking in the Pacific Northwest (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?

Thanks for your time! Advice will be very much appreciated.
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA... [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2012, 16:04
I think you're a wild card for top b-schools: basically, adcoms won't really know what to do with you (and that is still assuming you put together a strong written application and interview well). Some will feel it's worth taking the risk to admit you, others won't - in other words, the decision process with your profile is even more subjective than it would be for most other candidates. The only thing that you have in your favor is that you're in life sciences (if you were in engineering or any other doctorate, you're likely a long shot). Reason why is unlike other fields, life sciences companies tend to value PhDs more and there is more movement directly into management ranks without a whole lot of "non-lab" work experience, simply because the life sciences industry itself is so much more research oriented than say, working at a software company making iPhone apps.

You're at a point now where you've done so much schooling that if you are to go back to school, it should be only the top ones. The flipside though is that none of the top schools are going to be sweet spots -- mostly stretches. A lot of people in your position probably wouldn't bother with schools outside the top 16, especially since you have enough schooling now to get clinical/research work in the "real world" so to speak.

What I suggest is to apply to the top schools knowing that it's going to be a stretch, and at the same time look for work. If you get in, great. If you don't work full-time, and look at part-time or exec programs down the road.
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Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
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Re: Profile evaluation: PhD to MBA...   [#permalink] 18 Jun 2012, 16:04
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