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Background: Will be 27 when I start MBA in Fall 2013 Caucasian/white male Fluent in English and Russian
Education: 3.0 / 4.0 GPA from University of Toronto in Canada with double major in Finance and Economics 690 GMAT (87th percentile) - Q49 V35, 6 out of 6 on Essay section, 7 out of 8 on IR section CFA level 1, 2, 3 complete, may obtain CFA Designation within the next month if my work experience is approved
Work Exp: ~2 yrs of residential real estate development consulting experience (Analyst level), very analytical in nature, reported to the Principals of a small boutique consulting firm ~2.5 yrs of commercial real estate experience at a publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) which was acquired by a larger REIT this year (interesting experience being part of a merger) ... I had significant exposure to capital market transactions including acquisition of assets, debt refinancing, carve-out and IPO of specific line of business, secondary equity offerings, etc. (Analyst, and then promotion to Senior Analyst, unfortunately the next level is Director so I don't see any promotions coming up soon unless I get my MBA)
Volunteering: Board committee at a non-profit company
References: 1) my current and direct supervisor, Director level (Canadian MBA) 2) my previous indirect supervisor, previously CFO, currently Founder/CEO of his own Private Equity firm (NYU Stern MBA)
Target schools: Booth in Chicago, Stern in NY, Columbia in NY, and LBS in UK.
Interests: Private Equity, ideally with a focus on Real Estate where I can leverage my skills/knowledge/experience. Knowing how small the PE industry is, I will also be targeting Ibanks with a focus on Real Estate.
Please comment on my overall profile, and specifically my GMAT score and my target schools.
So let's just jump straight into things: For the numbers you have (GPA plus GMAT) and the school list you have chosen things are a bit tough... Meaning you are (a bit) below the average on GMAT, and a lot more on the GPA. If it was just one or the other, it would be easier, but with both it's tougher.
Thankfully you do seem to have good work experience in a good industry (we will need to delve deeper here to figure out just HOW good). I think that if you added one or three more schools that would be a bit safer for you, but which would have strengths in Real Estate, it might be good for your final results. Have a look into Johnson and Marshall which both have dedicated Real Estate Programs... also, look into McCombs and UNC....
I would also suggest dropping the "PE in RE" goals and sticking with pure RE... because if you aim for PE, you are setting yourself up against a lot of tough top performers in a very tight industry with few jobs... Better to stick with your unique qualities and strengths.
I absolutely agree with your comment on PE RE. I think it's a very small industry and extremely competitive. What I meant was, that's my long term goal and something I aspire to. I guess for short-term I need to consider a more realistic and achievable goal.
I am considering writing GMAT the 2nd time and hopefully scoring in the low/mid 700s, is this a good use of my time? Or should I just focus on my applications since I'm applying during Round 2 and most deadlines are in the 1st week of January 2013.
Even though the GPA scale is out of 4.0, I'm not sure if it's identical in comparison to U.S. GPA system.
Unfortunately I cannot justify the cost of obtaining MBA from non-top U.S. school, I think going to a top Canadian MBA school would make more sense in that case.
I would say you could even leave the PE out of your long-term goals (I mean you can keep it in mind as your real goals, but don;t write it) as I don't see any advantage into getting into it, and you can likely prepare a fine application with RE goals.
As for GMAT, if your preference and intent is to apply this year, it would be a mistake to retake at this point. I mean unless you were not working at all, there is basically now ay you could prepare for the GMAT AND prepare your applications. So if you are keen on applying now, then you will need to bite the bullet, accept your score and work on your applications, which at this point are far more important (and time-consuming too).
Before you write "I cannot justify the cost of obtaining MBA from non-top U.S. school" I would suggest doing a bit of research about the schools I mentioned. I see far too many folks getting needlessly dazzled by a silly ranking number. What is FAR more important is how the program will help specifically YOU match your specific goals. So if you are going to one of the best RE programs in the US (even if it's ranking seems lower than you think you might want) it might be perfect for you. I would suggest speaking to folks from your industry who actually went to the program. You may be pleasantly surprised by how worthwhile some of these programs are.
Whatever you do decide, I just wanna wish you the best of luck!