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To Alex and Others

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To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 28 Mar 2009, 22:46
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Last edited by Blayze on 02 Apr 2009, 15:48, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2009, 07:41
Hey.. I am sure Alex will give you a much more detailed answer just giving my 1c worth before he does :)

I've been reading up loads on forums and the net about MBA and student profiles - I don't want to judge your profile (although it seems like its strong and yr current role sounds great) but as to your desire to do an MBA at H/S/W I think its normal and makes sense.

At the end of the day, having a business degree from one of those schools is a wonderful achievement - and even if we do not go into the economic value of having that brand on your CV, it seems you will feel proud for the rest of your career because of such a distinguished MBA, and rightly so. I am a firm believer of looking beyond just the ROI of an MBA, and more at the personal and social benefits that you will get from it. If you feel that you will gain a lot from doing that on a personal level, apart from the network and instant recognition you receive when saying you are, for example, a Harvard business grad, I suggest that you go ahead and pursue your 'dream' and not dwell too much on the ROI and such like.

As regards asking for advice on your chances from someone as knowledgable as Alex, that's definitely a good idea and makes a lot of sense giving that you have something important to lose when you apply to the above schools.

Anyways, I know this was probably not much help :) Goodluck with your applications if you go ahead and make them
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Re: To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2009, 10:08
Welcome to the forum!

I hope what I mentioned below is taken in the spirit of constructive feedback - I just felt that given how much you wrote, I owe it to you to be as candid as I can - but noting that this is simply my opinion and perspective (which you can completely disagree with).

First, I think you're projecting how much you value the "brand" onto others -- assuming that others actually care about it as much as you do. Trust me, I know where you're coming from with this whole brand thing, but I'm telling you it's not as big a deal as you think as the MBA becomes more and more a distant memory.

Maybe your fellow peers may fawn over brand names of schools, but not folks who are more experienced than you. Just because a lot of people have MBAs from certain schools doesn't mean that they necessarily value such a degree. The folks who hold some of the most cynical and jaded views about the value of the MBA come from those who went to H/S/W.

Unlike other forms of education, an MBA isn't really an investment, but a consumption good. It's more like a car than a house -- it's a depreciable asset.

Anyhow, you can believe what you wish to believe, but be careful about assuming that others will value it as much as you do, especially the longer you're out of school.

In short, I think you're a middle-of-the-road candidate for schools like H/S/W. I hate to bring in the race card, but you really have to be able to show that you're not the stereotypical Asian-American/Canadian guy. Can you show through your experience that you are better with people than you are with numbers? As you probably know, the stereotypical Asian-American/Canadian applicant is someone who is studious, reliable, analytical, and straight as an arrow - in other words, characteristics that make for a great worker bee. It may be an unfair stereotype, but remember that this process is subjective, and individual adcom's own preconceptions will come into play (and when they see so many Asians with similar characteristics regardless of their pre-MBA occupation, it's hard not to form strong preconceptions even if it's wrong to judge individuals based on those preconceptions).

From what you wrote, it's hard to say how you are much different from the other Asian finance guys applying. You can't rely on "numbers" or "brand" or "credentials". You need to show that you have the ability to be a great boss to work for someday. Someone who has gone against convention (a hurdle exacerbated by culture/upbringing that stresses conformity over originality). Someone who knows how to color outside the lines. Someone who isn't your typical studious, obedient, by-the-books Asian.

You have to be able to show that you're not just an "exceptional associate" but a "high potential partner". Lots of finance types can show that they have the work ethic, analytical skills, execution, blah blah blah to be great associates (pre or post-MBA), but relatively few can convince an adcom that they have the hustle, leadership, and people skills to be great partners/executives. It's all about interpersonal, team and leadership skills. Your ability to influence and persuade people. It's not about "executing processes" but about building relationships, having the ability to connect with people, etc. Stuff you don't learn in school, but stuff you will more likely learn in extracurriculars such as team sports, arts/music (playing in bands), community service, politics/activism, and any sort of group-oriented activity.

They are looking for queen bees, not worker bees. Also because there are more queen bee types applying to these top schools.

And no, there isn't some quota for Canadians - it's neither an advantage nor disadvantage, and they will be benchmarking you more or less based on your occupation, not your nationality. You're an Asian-American/Canadian finance guy. That's fundamentally what they'll see you as.

As such, there are plenty like yourself who will be applying to these schools who went to Ivies, went to *ahem* McGill or Queen's (which have a long history of alums at these three b-schools), worked at Goldman, Morgan, McKinsey, Bain, etc. and worked at top tier private equity shops. The profile of many Canadians who apply and get in aren't much different than the Americans - lots of blue chip bankers and consultants. In terms of pedigree, you will have less than they do.

So it comes down to the "man behind the resume". It's not about your firm being founded by HBS guys (that's practically irrelevant). It's not about your age (you're fine), your analytical credentials (CFA, strategy execution, blah blah blah). It's whether you can show yourself to be someone who isn't conventional. Having few extracurriculars doesn't really help, but you are who you are. All you can do is focus on the essays and interview, and hope for the best. Without a lot of luck, I honestly think your chances are slim - not because you don't have a *strong* or *solid* profile, but you don't come across in your post as someone who is substantively different from the hordes of other Asian finance dudes applying (and with less pedigree). That may be hard to hear, but maybe it can open possibilities in your life/career perhaps that you may not have thought of before. Dare to be completely unconventional and crazy that may horrify your family, even if it doesn't mean going to b-school, or collecting brand names, prestige, status, etc.

And you should apply to other schools as well. Like Columbia, Chicago, Kellogg, Sloan, Tuck, NYU, etc. I know you said you're not elitist, but you're not above these schools that are not H/S/W.
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Re: To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2009, 19:51
edit

Last edited by Blayze on 02 Apr 2009, 15:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2009, 19:06
Alex,

Apologies for the barrage of questions, in addition to the information I have provided above, I would appreciate your feedback on the following points:
-Is round 1 the best time to apply?
-What is the GMAT "threshold" for h/s/w? 700 seems to be the rule of thumb but is it higher in the case of these 3?
-How important is GPA? I have a (7.6/9) which translates to A- according to our letter system, not sure how US schools would view this since it's not on a 4.0 scale
-How important is title/status of recommender (ie: will it help significantly if I get the founder/CEO of our corporation as reference - assuming I worked directly with him)

Thanks for your time. I know I am pushing it - but it's rare to find someone who both has a strong perspective on my background (you know what it's all about having gone thru the process as the "asian finance guy") and truly understands the admission process from an ivy league perspective, so I'm really trying to learn all I can here :)

Cheers
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Re: To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2009, 11:27
Just by way of update, I just heard from a friend who's had 2 years at the top canadian i-bank and 2 years at a top tier canadian pe shop get turned down (ie: no interviews) at hbs/columbia, and waitlisted at wharton.

And she had the "female" card. That's discouraging :(

I think you're right Alex... I should probably apply 2 other schools beyond H/S/W. Probably Columbia and one other. Gonna be a tough pill for my ego to swallow lol. I still think there is room for me to somewhat distinguish myself thru the written application if I can employ a unique/interesting angle, but my expectations have been lowered a notch.
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Re: To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2009, 15:31
Again, you have to focus on YOU, the individual.

And the "female" card is way overblown. Your demographic alone isn't the main selling point - at best, it's secondary.

It's about the INDIVIDUAL applicant.

Which comes down to your follow up questions. Don't focus on the numbers. So long as your GMAT and GPA are serviceable (700+ and a "B" average roughly), it's not about the numbers. Nor is it about name dropping by getting recommenders (substance over title - so many applicants try to bullsh*t and most frankly suck at it and the worst are those who *think* they are good at it but actually suck).

Rather than convince me that you're an individual, put all that energy and effort into your applications instead to convince the adcom.
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Re: To Alex and Others [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2009, 15:47
Thank you Alex, you have made me view my application strategy in a whole new light.
Re: To Alex and Others   [#permalink] 02 Apr 2009, 15:47
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