Bruce faced a handful of pretty serious challenges. He was a Chinese applicant working in finance with a mediocre GPA and a GMAT that was lower than ideal. However, his biggest challenge was that he was 30 and his salary was close to 400,000 dollars a year. For a candidate to be successful, the ADCOM needs to see a path to post MBA employment through on campus recruiting. There was no way we could make that case. We needed to focus on something more compelling, something that would permit the ADCOM to make a decision in favor of Bruce, without focusing on a decrease in salary.
With Bruce our potential strategies were limited by age, income and years in profession. We did consider arguing for a career transition, something entrepreneurial he could do that would require a different skill set and new network. Our second option was to focus on the implicit “ceiling” he faced in moving to the C-Suite at his current employer without an MBA. The idea was that an MBA provided both a broad set of management skills, and a brand name MBA that would enable him to “fit in” while providing a network to grow the business overseas.
We considered arguing that if he were to make it into the upper ranks of the Bank he would need to move out of private wealth management and into more generalized management. Those jobs, regardless of his current salary would require an MBA. The latter made the sense. It would have been almost impossible to brand Bruce as an “innovator” so we pinned down the bios of upper management and focused on the business schools they attended!
The Admissionado Approach
We realized that what Bruce needed a brand name MBA that would give him a certain swagger and credibility among senior management. An MBA from a top school would transition Bruce from a “private wealth sales guy” and into a general management leadership guy. We built a narrative around this exact objective. We worked closely with his recommenders who corroborated the story we were telling the ADCOM. We figured out early on that trying to paint Bruce as an innovative entrepreneur just didn’t mesh with his years of selling and managing private wealth, and making this type of transition wouldn’t make any sense to an ADCOM. His already high salary would need to be explained clearly to an ADCOM. Why would you give up 2 years of 330k a year and pay 200k (close to a million dollars of forgone wealth) only to leave business making 120k. The argument that with an MBA Bruce could make his way into the fast tracked inner circle into a senior management role was our best bet.
Bruce got into CBS, Yale, LBS and a couple more schools. He’s now at Columbia and loving it.
Bruce wasn’t naïve about his challenges but I’ve never had a candidate work as fast or as hard to make this work. Seven applications all in Round 1 didn’t hurt his chances either!