First, when you say you lack leadership, do you mean official leadership roles? Often when I work with people who initially feel they lack leadership experience, they are thinking of specific titles and designated roles. When we deeply examine their experience, we usually can find leadership, even if “unofficial” – i.e., times they exercised leadership on their own – perhaps they provided thought leadership, or resolved a brewing conflict, or found the key that enables consensus, or convinced a senior person or a client to innovate or take an outside-the-box step, etc. So, I suggest re-evaluating your experience with an expanded view of leadership.
Also, keep in mind, for work, it is important for top programs to show not just leadership, but impact and a track record of achievement that is strong relative to accomplished peers.
Regarding your current employer being unknown – in that situation (not uncommon), you do face the burden of ensuring that the adcom understands your company – its function, scope, structure, etc. But it's also an opportunity, because it means your work situation will be fresh -- and potentially interesting therefore. If your school is #2 in Australia,I believe they will know about it, even if it's not on the list. Also, they will understand the grading scale of an Australian university.
Regarding your ethnicity, I suggest not looking at it in such a calculated way – you are who you are, and present this aspect as naturally and “organically” as possible, which is the best way to show yourself as a confident, distinct individual.
Some other programs I think you might be interested in looking at in the US are Chicago Booth, NYU, and Berkeley Haas. Your current list comprises all reasonable reaches, with HBS being on the “outside edge” of reasonable, depending on the work track record. The schools I just mentioned would also be reasonable reaches. For a slightly less competitive program that might also be a good fit, look at Cornell Johnson.
Senior Advisor, Accepted
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