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Back-End Tech Support Expert to HBS

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Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 6676
Location: Chicago, IL
Schools: Brown University, Harvard Business School
Back-End Tech Support Expert to HBS  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Nov 2019, 08:37
Meet Larry, age 30, from China. His GMAT fell within the average range for top B-schools, but he was coming from one of the most competitive possible demographics: Chinese male engineers.

The Challenge

Larry worked at a prestigious management consultancy, but he was not a consultant. His role was to provide technical advice to the management consultants, and he did a very good job. Still, he wouldn’t get nearly as much out of his employer’s name as someone in the company’s core function would have. He was also quite old for HBS, his target school. Top U.S. schools are taking in more and more recent graduates with only two or three years on the job, and Larry would have to prove that he could get along well with classmates seven years his junior.

Possible Approaches

Larry was “new money.” He had done quite well for himself, but he was also the first person in his family to attend college, travel overseas, and work outside manufacturing. Larry was naturally quite proud of this achievement, and wanted to make it a big part of his narrative. In a vacuum, this seems like a great idea—who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches story? The problem, however, is that a LOT of applicants have the same story. Two of the largest B-school markets (China and India) are emerging economies with a rapidly growing middle class. This is a recipe for stories just like Larry’s, and indeed we see many of them at Admissionado. We encouraged Larry to mention these aspects of his life, but not make them the focus of his admissions argument.

The Admissionado Approach

HBS is all about leadership, so Larry’s application needed to be all about leadership too. Luckily, he had a lot of stories to tell. Though he was a technical consultant, Larry had spent a lot of time working on huge digital transformation projects with C-suite executives at client companies. By emphasizing these experiences, we showed how Larry, though a "back end" guy, was crucial to the core business of his impressive employer. He had even done a lot of this work abroad! That, combined with his international education (both undergraduate and a master’s), painted the picture of a global leader just as impressive as any of his management consultant coworkers.

The Result

An HBS admit, among others.

Personal Shoutout

Larry, you’re an amazing leader. The odds of going from China to HBS, with high school graduate parents, are astronomically low… but we’re not at all surprised that you beat them!

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Back-End Tech Support Expert to HBS   [#permalink] 01 Nov 2019, 08:37
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