June 21, 2019

Joined: Nov 05, 2017

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Accepted to U.S. Top 5 (India, Male, Engineer, Non-Target Undergrad, 740 GMAT)

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Product Avanti Prep Package

Consultant Greg Guglielmo

Basic Profile Info

I am a 2011 pass-out from a Tier 2 Indian college (GPA of 3.3/4.0 in Computer Engineering), and have worked in Finance industry for 3.5 years before having an Employment Gap for 2 odd years. In this time, I was employed at Early-stage investment funds (one for a voluntary unpaid position) for a discontinuous period of 9 months. Since then I have been working for an Asian focused investment fund.

While I believe that I have strong work experience, the Employment Gap loomed large and my CV lacked major brands. I had worked at 5 finance shops with only 2 of them having global brands – but those weren’t my longest tenured roles. I was also a bit on the older side of the average student’s age or work experience for my target schools.

I was introduced to Greg by one of his Round 1 clients, and after our first call, I took a reference call with another Indian client (a Kellogg graduate) who worked with Greg. I am aware that the first client has also done well and is going to a T10 with decent scholarship. I owe them a thanks for the introduction/ vetting, and I am glad in retrospect that they were made. Greg was very forthcoming with such references.

Our Work Together / My Results

Greg and I started off by working across 5 schools with a Tier 2 package (two M7s, one T10, one T15, and a leading Canadian program), and with 2 schools on hourly basis (one M7 and one T10/15). All of these schools were in Round 2. I was invited to interview at one T5 program and Tuck, and I was waitlisted before interview at Stern.

After that, I used Greg’s Interview Prep services and was Waitlisted at the T5 and Tuck, post which I took more services from Greg to help navigate the Waitlist process. After many steps and great efforts, this ultimately resulted in acceptance to the T5 program. I withdrew my candidature from Tuck once my plans with the T5 program were settled.

What Stood Out (with Examples)

1) Overall Approach & Impact: The first thing I want to highlight here is Greg’s earnestness to make your profile win. He truly brings a lot to the table. While I had unsuccessfully applied to an M7 (in Early Decision) with an Indian admissions coach, I thought my application materials were mostly ready when I onboarded with Greg. And I couldn’t have been more wrong!! Greg made me redefine and re-nuance my goal, worked very very very hard on my stories and rehashed my CV entirely again. It was clear the competence and professionality he brought to the table was enormous.

Also, regarding Greg’s efforts, he offered to work with me on a pro-bono basis on my Interview Essays (where required), despite the Package originally being Tier 2, which ends with submission. This included multiple iterations in 5 working days. He literally measures every word, every sentence and remembers every detail of your story.

2) Main Essay Work: The in-depth nuancing and opening essay strategy sessions we did gave me a skeleton for each essay, but there were many times where we would improvise as needed, and Greg was super accommodative on that (again, the general theme is his keenness for you to submit your best possible version). I really liked this balanced approach and his deep knowledge of the DNA of the school in question. Multiple times, Greg pointed me to the right resources to research and reference.

Even when we were adapting stories/ anecdotes from one school to another, Greg helped me think through and re-position them with an eye on the newer schools. Given the nature of the industry and people’s tendencies to streamline, he could have easily approved the older versions and saved his time and efforts. But that wasn’t the case.

To International Applicants, I would also like to point out that Greg sometimes helped me avoid fatal mistakes on the grounds of handling and quoting sensitive issues. We (i.e. internationals) need to understand that the reader is from a very different socio-cultural background, and sometimes, our manner of presenting a situation/ idea can be taken in a somewhat offensive manner. I was happy to have Greg on my side for this.

On Goals Essays, we molded my career goals to fit the strength of the school in the best manner possible – another example of the thoughtfulness and customization.

3) CV Work: Although I thought I had my CV “done” from an Indian admissions consultant, Greg and I worked extremely hard on it, review after review, and we re-built every single bullet point basically from the start. He also provided me one extra review than was in my original Package. Greg’s way of building the CV was much different than my previous consultant and much more in-depth too. Post 2 reviews we were still at 1.5+ pages of CV which was eventually trimmed into single page in a manner well-done.

Also, Greg’s CV reviews didn’t end after applying to first school. I remember once merely 3 days before the application deadline, he pro-actively offered to review the CV again and adapt its presentation for some schools specifically. I was amazed not only by his efforts but more so, by the timing, to prioritize this final pro-active and pro-bono review just to put the best foot forward. (There was no change in my job experience, but just one story which came forward, which led Greg to recommend re-balancing the CV.)

4) Application Review: Greg’s application reviews (i.e. review of online application submissions) were in-depth and water-tight. He helped me to elaborate on CV points wherever needed, helped bring out job responsibilities where needed. And he really made it a point to not leave anything on table (in terms of information and explanations).

5) School Strategy: While Greg and I did not specifically work on school selection together (as I started with a Tier 2 Package), he did offer me resources online to help guide me. To be honest, Greg felt my choices of schools were aggressive with my kind of profile – and he wasn’t wrong at all, as he was going with past trends and results (which any rational person would do). I do want to clearly highlight here, and quite explicitly too, that his work was as intense (always intense) no matter the school or chances of getting in, whether a riskier application or safer one. Coming from a background where potential winners are given more support than underdogs, it was a very heartening moment for me. In fact, seeing his professionality led me to double downing on riskier options, and I chose 2 more M7s than I initially intended to.

In an industry where no one can say for sure what’s a “good enough” application, Greg put a lot of his efforts and time and even some unsolicited additional reviews to help me deliver my best and rise to the challenge of harder applications. And in a good irony – almost like a movie – this Fall I’ll be attending the most difficult program I applied to.

6) Post Interview Invites: I took Greg’s Interview Prep services for both schools I was invited to interview to (one session for each). My initial reaction was a shocker when I realized how under-prepared I was. After going through long mock interviews in each school’s style, Greg offered me detailed feedbacks on the way to answering questions, presenting myself and handling curve-balls. I had very little skepticism when I thought of purchasing the second Interview Prep package. My effort with the second school improved, but still further nuancing and feedback were re-introduced by Greg for that school. Greg’s combined effort of interviewing and feedback was much beyond the 2.5 hour per package offer. These made me more adept not only in answering the core interview questions and articulating goals and fit in line with the specifics of each program, but also in handling each school’s mini-curveballs during the actual interviews.

7) Post Waitlist Efforts: I was waitlisted at the two schools I interviewed (Top 5 program and Tuck), post which Greg was very accommodating in allowing me to upgrade from Tier 2 to Tier 3 Package (as the late upgrade is not technically allowable).

One of the most important parts was Greg’s openness to accept what could have been done differently, i.e. how to be self-aware and identify and address the needed areas for improvement. Waitlists are tricky and create a lot of what-ifs and second-guessing in the candidate’s mind. I felt very happy that we both took the result in a positive manner and were open to accepting the outcome and developing an approach to move forward.

After some Waitlist Strategy discussion, I was surprised to see Greg ending up doing 3 reviews of each Waitlist Letter submission (I submitted 2 of these per school). Yet again, he guided me in nuancing the emails and letters to the right tone of the school.

Finally, I am grateful that a couple of colleagues/ alumni of certain schools agreed to write an Endorsement/ Letter of Support for me. Greg offered more pro-bono help by offering advice for these letters as well. This was definitely a piece of work that I didn’t explicitly sign up for, but Greg was much more than happy to help in order for me to win.

Summary Comments

At the risk of sounding repetitive and giving unsolicited advice, I truly believe that application success is a quite grey and can’t be predicted. Your GPAs/ Your work experience/ Your age/ Your undergrad institutions/ (to some extent of your GMAT – after all we all want that 760-780!)/ Your Extra-Curriculars/ Who your Recommenders likely will be are often well beyond your control by the time you decide to apply.

What is in your control are your essays and your stories and their presentation. While one can’t say how the applications results would have looked if I had used a different consultant (BTW my first application with an Indian consultant was very terrible and cost me a chance at an M7 which was very well geared towards my goals), I would advise the following parameters as **must have** in your consultant – **the ability and the willingness** to do deep reviews, see the application in comprehensive manner, and not be penny pinching on time. Of course, the onus is on the applicant to give decent drafts for review and ahead of time; Greg was on many occasions able to rapid-turnaround reviews (at no cost to the depth of the review), in some cases as early as the same day.

I have heard (and had one bad experience myself also) of several shenanigans of other consultants including: reviews which are done in a manner to push work – stories where even international consultants follow stereotypical skeletons of essays, superficial essay and CV reviews that offer little more than general comments, 5-10 mins of work done on Application Entries review, or consultants pushing their thoughts on to the candidate to save time and effort. None of that ever happened here. Quite the opposite instead.

There were very few times when I was in disagreement with Greg (including the topic for an Interview Essay, some mentions within a main essay, and even how to articulate some points during the interview prep). But we would always have constructive debate and end up on a much stronger middle ground than where we started. This is a big testimony to his sincerity and his mandate – to get the best out of you, and to get the best for you. I can assure you that this is one thing that has been constant in our seven full months of work together. I strongly feel that your probabilities of success increase several-fold when you take someone of his caliber and more importantly his dedication.

Please feel free to reach me for any references etc. I would be more than happy to help.

This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system or .edu email address and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
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