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Am I competitive?

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Author Message
Joined: 14 Dec 2009
Posts: 57

Kudos [?]: 17 [0], given: 8

Location: United States
Concentration: Finance, Accounting
GMAT 1: 760 Q49 V44
GPA: 3.38
WE: Other (Other)
Am I competitive? [#permalink]

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New post 11 Apr 2010, 20:58
Thanks in advance to anyone willing to evaluate and respond.


25 year old male, international background (grew up in US and Japan), US Citizen
GMAT: 730 (96th percentile) - V45 (98th percentile), Q45 (74th percentile)
GPA: 3.38 overall from a top 20 Liberal Arts College - Double major in East Asian Studies (Mandarin Chinese, 3.67 GPA) and Economics (3.0 GPA)
Work Experience: 2.5 years in Compliance at two top asset management firms

Target Schools:
-Chicago Booth

I am concerned about my chances because of two potential weaknesses. The first is my Economics GPA; although my overall GPA is seemingly average (or slightly below average) for top programs, my economics GPA is a bit low at 3.0, and my performance in the two quantitative courses I took (Statistics and Calculus) was not strong (I got a C+ in Statistics and took Calculus Pass/Fail). How much of a problem will this be? I have a strong GMAT score, but my quantitative percentile is not stellar. I am considering re-taking statistics and calculus at a local college to mitigate the damage.

My second concern is that I have very little in the way of ECs and no volunteer work/community involvement. The only EC I have is from my undergrad senior year, when I joined a program that essentially was a “mini business school experience”; I led a team that evaluated and presented a HBS case-study and performed an equity analysis, leading to a buy/hold/sell recommendation. I have no prior volunteer experience; although I realize it may come off as contrived, I have signed up for a few volunteer events over the next several months. I am hoping that having something is better than nothing.

In terms of WE, I graduated in May, 2007 and first moved to Chicago, where I was unable to find a job; I ended up moving to NYC in Feb, 2008 and began working in March of 2008 as a Compliance Specialist at a large Asset Management Firm (~$300 billion AUM). In my first position, I conducted forensic reviews on a wide range of topics, covering areas such as marketing materials, RFPs and trade allocation. I was also responsible for employee Compliance training (covering topics such as Personal Trading, disclosure of accounts, communication with media, etc). I was laid off in February, 2009 and began my current position in March in Compliance at another large Asset Management Firm (~$ 600+ billion AUM), this time focusing on personal trade surveillance/reconciliation and code of ethics administration (disclosure of outside business activity, political contributions, private investments, etc). I am also responsible for employee training at my current position. My current position is more focused than my previous job and is much more high-pressure, fast-paced and full of short-deadline projects.

I am interested in getting my MBA in order to transition from Compliance to Investment Banking; although I enjoy what I currently do, I would like the opportunity to work on the business side in deals and interact with clients. What I enjoy the most about my current job is meeting new employees through Compliance training as well as acting as a resource for employees throughout the firm by handling Compliance-related questions and requests. I am a strong communicator and I feel that I could be more valuable to an employer and more fulfilled on a personal level by working on deals and (eventually) winning over clients.

Any input on my chances at the schools I listed would be greatly appreciated.

Kudos [?]: 17 [0], given: 8

Senior Manager
Senior Manager
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Joined: 06 Feb 2010
Posts: 437

Kudos [?]: 72 [0], given: 15

Re: Am I competitive? [#permalink]

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New post 14 Apr 2010, 03:24

Though I-banking is one of the top feeder industries into b-schools, your area of expertise (Compliance) is in a niche and unique domain. That gives you an advantage. You won't have too many people with your profile competing for those few coveted seats.

Your overall GMAT score is good. But considering the facts that you've shared (quant score, GPA, economics grade et al), you might get some raised eyebrows from the person reviewing the application if you submit it in the current form. Your plan of mitigating this with additional courses in statistics and calculus is good. Go ahead with it. If there a possibility of re-taking the GMAT to balance out the Q/V scores, that might help as well.

Due to the demands of certain professions, community involvement may not always be possible. However, it doesn't need to be X hrs/week kind of an involvement. You could do something that's not location specific. For this year's apps, you could highlight whatever you've done rather than try to force fit something at the last moment.

If you are seriously concerned on the EC/non-profit front (e.g. you get feedback from some of the schools), then you could take up something that has a more serious involvement. It won't looked contrived as you aren't showing something for 3 months just before sending in your application.

In terms of your work-ex, the size of the Asset Mgmt Firm doesn't directly say much about your scope of work. If there's a way for you to link your compliance work to those impressive looking numbers, it might have more impact. Right now it just tells the Adcom that you work for big companies. If your work has more than just an inward focus (internal processes, systems, regulatory controls etc), then highlight those aspects as well.

Your career aspirations do not seem impractical. You are looking for a new function within the same industry. That's not too much to ask for. In your essays, ensure that you explain your motivations well and link them with your strong understanding of the underlying processes.

Good luck with your applications.

Sameer Kamat | Founder - MBA Crystal Ball | Email: info at mbacrystalball dot com

Kudos [?]: 72 [0], given: 15

Re: Am I competitive?   [#permalink] 14 Apr 2010, 03:24
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