Harvard Business School 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

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Make Every Word Count.

For the second year in a row, Harvard Business School is simultaneously demanding less and much more of applicants: No essays. Fewer words. Fewer characters. More thought. More brevity. And as much substance as you can cram into the responses limited not to a few hundred words, but to a few hundred characters. If any of you think creating a compelling HBS app will be easy, think again.

Required Portions

The required portions represent what Harvard wants to know about you. The HBS admissions committee is quite clear and specific about what it wants to know. And how much it wants to know. Please realize that your resume and the boxes are now the heart of your application Before you begin completing the application, first review Harvard’s three criteria for admission. Write your descriptions and response so that you show these qualities:

•   Habit of leadership.

•   Analytical Aptitude and Appetite.

•   Engaged community citizenship.

For additional understanding of Dee Leopold, Director of Harard Business School’s Admissions, and her thought process, please review the Poets and Quants interview with Dee, published in June 2014.

Because of the brevity required – most of the longer answers have a 500-character limit — you must be succinct:

•   Focus on business and leadership achievements, not technical feats.

•   Don’t merely describe your responsibilities; highlight your accomplishments– where you have made a difference, where you have gone above and beyond the expected, the typical, and the ordinary.

•   Quantify as much as possible.

•   Write tight.

The Optional Essay: (No word limit)

“You’re applying to Harvard Business School.  We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you.   What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?”

Now what else – really and truly — do you want HBS to know about you? The HBS admissions committee has told you what it wants to know. That’s in the required sections of the application. What do you want the HBS readers to know? The answer to that question is not something I can give or even suggest to you in a blog post aimed at the many. (For individual advice, please see Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting.) It should be different for each of you. Again, refer to the HBS criteria, as you contemplate possible topics, but the options are infinite. A few possibilities:

•   Context for events described in the required elements.

•   Motivations for the decisions or commitments you have made.

•   Challenges you have faced.

•   Something you would like to do at HBS.

•   More depth on an activity or commitment that is particularly important to you.

Please don’t limit yourself to these suggestions. I am offering them to stimulate your creativity, not to shut it down. Some of you may wonder if you should write this essay given that it is optional. If you don’t have anything to say, say nothing. Nonetheless, I can’t believe that accomplished, remarkable people have nothing valuable to add to the required portions of Harvard’s application. A persuasive, impressive essay simply gives Harvard more reasons to accept you, and you should want them to have those reasons. On the other hand, if you slap together something hastily or rehash or copy-and-paste another school’s essay, then you run the risk of actually reducing the quality of your application. Bottom line: Make it worth reading. Write a thoughtful essay that reflects you and complements the required components.

Since I’ve been in MBA admissions consulting (almost 20 years now), HBS has valued concision. And, in today’s tweet- and sound-bite-driven world, it is requiring even shorter responses, at least in the required portion of the application. Don’t take the absence of a word limit on the optional essay as a license for verbosity. Make every word count. If you must pull a number out of me, don’t go over 800 words. And if you can say what you need to say in less than 800 words, do so. A few caveats and warnings on the essay. It is not:

•   Stanford’s “what matters most to you and why?”

•   The kitchen sink in which you throw everything.

•   An autobiography.

Interview Reflections

2015 Application Deadlines:

Application Due    Decisions Released
Round 1    Sept 9, 2014 Dec 2014
Round 2 Jan 5, 2015 Mar 2015
Round 3 Apr 6, 2015 May 2015

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for HBS, please provide the following info:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

    • Thankyou

      Hi Linda,

      1) 2010-2014 worked at Bloomberg. Became head trainer for equity derivatives across departments, teaching salesforce and clients alike. Creating material and conducting seminars for years. Building quantitative models to backtest strategies and offer these custom solutions to buy-side hedge fund partners. Spearhead specialized sales efforts on more quantitative clients. 2014 – Present, working in electronic trading to come up with strategies for the platform to protect client orders from high frequency trader algorithms. Act as market structure specialist in the field alongside salesforce and conduct meetings/seminars with partners in the buy-side.
      2) GMAT 76% Quant, 96% Verbal, 96% 730 total, 6.0 AWA
      3) McGill University, 3.3 GPA, Finance and International Business w/ East Asia…low because working two jobs to pay for college and learning French for one of them. Took Chinese at the same time, difficulty with two languages brought grades down.
      4) Post-college have done 50+ hours of community service annually in both 2012 and 2013. Among them…Habitat for Humanity, God’s Love We Deliver, local NYC Park cleanups/tree planting. Plenty of charity runs. Organized Gallop NYC charity partnership with Bloomberg.
      5) None, just Series 7, 63
      6) To use my business/finance acumen and public speaking skills to either join or create a viable social/environment business that identifies gaps/problems that need to be fixed and profits from the value that it provides for communities/environments, not from immoral behaviour.

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        Dear Thank you.

        Thanks for your post.

        You certainly have a chance at HBS, but I’m concerned about a few elements:

        1). The undergrad GPA. You have a reason for it. You’ll just have to see if HBS will overlook it.
        2) Somewhat vague goal.
        3) You have some leadership, but from what I read above not a lot. You may have more, and that would be great for your HBS application, but I just see the Gallop run and some leadership possibilities on the job.

        I think HBS is a stretch for you. I suggest you in addition consider Yale SOM, NYU Stern, CBS, Chicago Booth, Michigan Ross, and Duke.


    • Thanks

      Hi Linda,

      1) 5 years work experience (1 yr with Ministry of Finance and 4 years in HSBC and Westpac) Experience in banks predominantly in Finance and Strategy. Formulated and implemented new customer coverage models for Westpac’s expansion in Asia.
      2) GMAT: 700 (Q48:V37)
      3) Nanyang Technological University (Singapore): GPA 3.5/4
      4) Chef for less privileged old folks, not much leadership
      5) CFA, CA
      6) Strategy and Business Transformation in Financial Services, Consulting

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        Dear Thanks,
        I don’t think you have a competitive profile for HBS. Given your goals and qualifications, consider Duke, Darden, UCLA Anderson, Cornell Johnson, Georgetown, UNC, and Yale.
        Linda Abraham

  • Leonidas243

    I’d appreciate the HBS eval for my profile:
    1) 2009-present: Army National Guard (mix of full time and part-time due to training and a deployment); 2013-present: director at a boutique consulting firm focused on maximizing the impact of charitable investments; 2010-2013: worked with a major consulting firm as a quantitative analyst on large federal government issues. Been promoted ahead of peers in military with hard assignments; replaced a Harvard MPA graduate with 20 years of experience in my current civilian job.
    2) 710 (45Q 66% & 42V 96%)
    3) Top 10 public university, 3.7 with double major in Economics and Business, graduated in 2009
    4) VP student government, ROTC commander, founded a community-focused student organization, working as a volunteer for nonprofit focused on children in Uganda (traveled to Uganda in 2014)
    5) None civilian; Military: graduate of multiple special military training schools
    6) To leverage my leadership and social impact experience, along with deeper finance and social entrepreneurship background gained with MBA, to launch into impact investing as an associate at one of the major social investment firms operating internationally (Acumen, Calvert, Bridges). Eventually I’d like to become an innovator in the social/impact investing field, inventing new techniques and mechanisms to make social investments more sustainable and viable.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a lot going for you. However, I am a little concerned about the GMAT quant. Your grades and work experience should be enough to show HBS that you can handle the math. Other than that, you are competitive for HBS.

      If you are interested in more advice for your MBA application, please join me for the Get Accepted to Harvard Business School webinar on Thursday.



  • vicky

    hello linda,
    age 24
    1) 2nd year business analyst at mckinsey and company ( 2 years work experience)
    3)Mithibai college(University of Mumbai), GPA-3.9,1st ranker in college and in top 10 of Mumbai University
    4)Have many medals and certificates in sports from school.
    5)Completed FRM,all three levels of CFA,awaiting charter.
    6)enter investment banking.
    7)parents never graduated high school.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      If you have leadership experience, you have a competitive profile for HBS and other top MBA programs.

      If you are interested in more advice for your MBA application, please join me for the Get Accepted to Harvard Business School webinar on Thursday.


  • Jango

    1) Test engineer at xxx consultants for a leading automobile company in Michigan-1year. Strong technical Internship in a Start-up -8 months
    2) GMAT in October
    3) Univ of Mumbai (First class-2011) and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University (3.27)-2013.
    4) a) Lots of extra curricular activities (Evidence of being a strong team player). Started a technical committee in my undergrad and been the president of the committee for two consecutive years and managed events/finances/organisational hierarchy to serve to about 110 students/people each year.
    b) From half a pack smoker to a 25K runner is one of my personal achievements.
    c) I have 2 business plans build up under my sleeve- which has a lot of stuff falling short-like academic excellence, and I am looking for more to achieve in the next 40 years of my life (I am 24).
    5) Post MBA goal- Switch to Strategic Consulting
    (Not much idea about ivy leagues- starting to search about all the requirements. I wish to know where I stand and what I should do in the next 3 years to build it all up
    P.S Not applying until 2016)

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Somehow I missed this one.

      It is a little difficult to asses your profile without a GMAT and over a year away from the actual application. Plus I’m not sure I understand you c above. Is there a word missing there? Could you clarify?


  • R

    Hi Linda,

    I really appreciate it if you can evaluate my profile for the application of the 2+2 HBS program:

    1) I am still an undergraduate (going to graduate next year), but I have internship experience in a renowned MNC in the entertainment/media industry, consulting start-up, global bank and investment bank recently (sales and trading & research).

    2) Not yet done with GMAT (will take it if I have a decent enough credentials)

    3) An university in Asia. Not really a target school compared to those in US. GPA is likely to be around 3.4-3.5, Bsc Finance. Grades are quite low due to intensive coursework compared to other universities and participation in lots of extra curricular activities, competitions, and job hunting events.

    4) Became a chairman for a school organization to lead a team to organize activities addressing social issues and inspiring new students to join the team; won an international stock pitching competition

    5) None

    6) Leverage my Asian background to work in US Healthcare/Food & Beverage/Media investment banking to bring socially viable companies public/help fund-raising for those companies to achieve great business and social goals in Asian market. Eventually, when accumulating enough industry experience and contacts, move to impact investing focusing on Asia underprivileged regions.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a shot at HBS 2+2, but I don’t have enough details to say more than that.


  • MBA Applicant


    1: For the passed two years I have been a Teach For America corps member. Prior to that, I ran for mayor in a median-sized city, worked as a manager in a high-volume restaurant, and was a district sales manager for a hospitality start-up. I have interned for a member of congress and with a tech start-up.
    2: I haven’t taken the GMAT yet, but practice tests show me at 600.
    3: I attended a regionally known state university. I was an English/Writing major, president of two clubs, and graduated with a 3.8 GPA.
    4: I have volunteered actively with 5 large organizations focused on aiding the underprivileged (Americorps, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, Students With Disabilities, and a summer camp for seriously ill children).
    5: I have a teaching certificate and have several Coursera certificates for business classes I have taken on their site.
    6: I would like to go into a leadership position at a start up, a company focused on aiding the underprivileged, or with the government. (Which best aligns with my history?)

    Thank you for your feedback.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Sorry, but I do not believe you have a competitive profile for HBS. Even with a significantly higher GMAT. And with a 600 GMAT, it is a major stretch.

      Given your background, and of the three directions you mentioned would make sense once you get an MBA.

  • MedApplicant

    Hi Linda, great site. Hoping you can weigh in on my candidacy for HBS. Thanks in advance!

    Male, Age 24
    1) Graduated early from college, managed a restaurant ~6mo until med school. In 3rd year of med school now.
    2) GRE: Verbal 95%ile, Quant 88%ile, Writing 92%ile. USMLE (med boards) 93%ile.
    3) College: top 20, 3.53, Neuroscience, 2011. Med School: top 20, 3.65.
    4) Founded a company that supports medtech startups (team of ~20 people currently). Leadership role (largely nominal) in a surgical device development organization. Handful of academic publications in various fields. Working on a patent for a surgical device. Academic mentor to ~10 undergrads. Resident Advisor in college. Founded club sports team for school in college.
    5) MD in progress. CPR, ACLS.
    6) Medtech VC.

    Your feedback is much appreciated. Best Regards.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Thanks for the feedback.

      You have a competitive profile for HBS. I also encourage you to consider Stanford, Wharton (Healthcare management program), Haas, Duke, and MIT Sloan.

      Please let me know if you would like help with your applications.


  • hbsapplicant

    Hey Linda,

    I really appreciate the evaluation. I am a minority woman with an international background (20 yrs lived in a foreign country). I was wondering- is 2 yrs of experience enough to apply&get admitted to HBS? Thanks.

    1) 2 years of experience as a Product Manager at a major internet company in the US, working on new business features with developers.
    2) GMAT-780
    3) Columbia University; 3.7; Economics Major
    4) Serving as a part-time teacher in foreign countries.
    5) N/A
    6) I want to start my own internet startup.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Is that two years now or two years at matriculation?

      Two years (at matriculation is a minimum at HBS for the last couple of years. Based on published stats it appears that 3 years is preferred, but that’s not entirely clear. So I can’t say if the two years is enough or not. For it to be “enough” whether 2, 3, 4, 5, or X, you need to show progression, leadership, and impact.

      Everything else in your profile is highly competitive.


  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    Without a GMAT I am missing a critical piece of information, but I don’t see the kind of leadership and achievement that is competitive for HBS 2+2 .


    • Sudesh Adeppa

      Respected mam..

      firstly I would like to thank you frm my bottom of heart for replying me …
      madam Can u plz suggest me what should i do like what type of activities I should so that my leadership qualities becomes competitive and plz advice what type of achievements I should make and how so that HBS considers my application……
      pl plz plz plz plz…. advice me.. I ll be waiting mam,,..plz mam..

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        You should raise your GPA, get a very high GMAT score, and assume leadership roles where you are responsible for the outcome or results of an event or project and you can have impact. You have some roles like that, but a lot of what you listed wasn’t really leadership.

        • Sudesh Adeppa

          Thank you so much mam… for your advice…..

  • Karim

    Dear Ms. Abraham,
    Thank you very much for this unique opportunity to get engaged with such a distinguished individual as you. I am currently a third year international undergraduate student, and will be applying for the HBS 2+2 program next year. Below are my stats:

    1) Because of my international student status, I have not accumulated full-time work experience in the US. Nevertheless, I have had a 2 year full-time internship (started as a research intern, now a Senior Consulting Intern) at a gold and diamond distributing firm on New York’s 47th street (the Diamond District). My research and further negotiations have led to expansion of business into Europe, and creation of a new company with a capital of over a million dollars.
    In the meantime, I have had full-time work experience while visiting my home country (located in Central Asia) during summer and winter breaks. As such, I started as an Economic Analyst at a medium-sized company that specializes in production of silk. Over the 3 years of back-and-forth work experience, I rose to the position of Deputy Head Economist and held negotiations with the EU on attraction of investments. I have been offered position of Head Economist upon graduation.
    Concurrently, I have had full-time economics-related work positions in the government of my home country including the Parliament, a Senator’s office, and regional government.
    2) I have not taken the GMAT yet, but practice tests have placed me on the upper 600s.
    3) NYU, 3.80 Overall GPA, Economics and International Relations double major, Class of 2016.
    4) Elected to the Executive Board of the Model United Nations Club with prospects of leading it in the senior year, leading a department of over 100 staffers in the Model UN Conference held at the club, also establishing a new club on campus focusing on Middle Eastern international relations and reform initiatives.
    5) None.
    6) Post-MBA goal is to establish a start-up focusing on import&export of goods to my home country.

    Thank you very much for your feedback in advance!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      2+2 is a stretch. You have strong work experience and excellent grades. Your GMAT is a the low side for 2+2.


  • NYCGal

    Hi Linda,

    I would really appreciate your feedback on my profile! I am a

    old American female looking to apply for a full-time MBA program this fall.

    1) Experience: I have worked at one of the big 3 rating agencies for the past 4 years in several capacities and have received 3 promotions so far. Most recently, I was recruited to work on bringing to market a new Structured Finance analytical tool as a product strategist. In this capacity, I bridge the gap between the development team and the client to ensure the end product meets market needs in terms of value, competitive landscape and functionality.

    2) GMAT: 750 (99%V, 77%Q);6.0 AWA, 91% on data sufficiency

    Academics: 3.5 GPA at a
    Top 20 liberal arts college; note that there was

    very little grade inflation and I graduated magna cum laude (top 13% of class).

    Majored in International Relations, Minored in Economics.

    4) Extracurricular: I am a junior board member of an organization that provides scholarships for low income high school students in nearby urban areas and act as a mentor to a rising high school junior. In this capacity, I help to market the organizations goals, recruit new membership, and plan fundraising events. I also am involved in a reading program with a local elementary school and am part of an intern mentorship program through my office.

    5) None

    6) Goals: I hope to leverage an MBA to transition my product strategist experience into the technology sector as a product manager.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Your academic stats are excellent. Your work experience is strong. You have a competitive profile for top MBA programs including HBS. You may also want to consider MIT Sloan, Stanford, and Haas.

      Linda Abraham

  • InternationalApplicant

    Hi Linda!
    I was wondering if you would be so kind to assess mi chances at HBS Full-Time
    program or any other Top 10. I am a 23 year old (will be 24 in November) Uruguayan male.

    1) I work for a Big Four Advisory Services both at Management Consulting practice and at Corporate Finance practice (M&A, Due Diligence, Valuations, etc.). I will have been working there for three years at application and three and a half at matriculation. Already received two promotions. Two of the three years were during college, but full time and also one of my promotions was at that time.

    2) 730 (Q 84%, V 95%)

    3) Accountant major at a well-known Uruguayan private University. Graduated with 83% (Top 20%). Please consider that percentage grades here differ with U.S ones (Top 1 graduated with 90%). I missed the passing grade (70%) in my first exam during the first semester which impacted on my entire accumulated grades, since fail exams are appointed with a zero and not with the missing grade (1-69). My GPA would have been 86% (Top 10%).

    4) I am member of a sepharadic (jewish) community board in charge of developing several activities and fund raising projects in order to strength community involvement. I am also member of a project called ‘Shoa’ (which means Holocaust in Hebrew) where I go on a weekly-basis to several non-Jewish public and private high schools to teach 15 year old teens about the Holocaust, with a strong emphasis on helping them to understand how discrimination (race, sexual orientation and all kind of bullying) is present in everyone’s lives, and how to act in order to reduce it. Finally, I am developing a project with my Firm’s HR Manager about creating a volunteering system involving all the members of the Firm in making visits on a regular basis to several charity organizations (Children cancer, homeless, soup-kitchen, etc.). Not on a regular basis, but I am a volunteer in the annual fundraising day for ‘Teleton’ (children disease organization), as well as I make some visits to ‘Aldeas Infantiles’ (UNICEF organization where foreign embassies sponsor housing for abandoned children).

    5) None

    6) Short-term: Work for McK/B/B as a Management Consultant in a strong and competitive market. Long-term: Start my own consulting business.

    I appreciate your sincere evaluation!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a competitive profile for HBS, maybe a little short on the work experience, but what you have is good. It’s worth a try. You may also want to consider Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, Duke, Darden, and Yale.

      • anonfromCal

        Hi Linda- I would similarly appreciate your opinion. Thank you for your help!

        27 year old female
        1) 5 years experience in the Sales & Trading Division (on the sales side) of a bulge bracket investment bank
        2) GMAT- 710 (64% Quant/ 97% Verbal)
        3) top 10 private US university (non-Ivy); 3.73 GPA as Economics and Communications double major; Division 1 college athlete during all 4 years
        4) serve as a board member on 2 associations (both tied to my undergrad university), and actively mentor current student athletes. Lead sales person for over 15 clients (institutional investors). Also directly manage 1 junior person who works with me in helping my clients
        5) CFA
        6) move into a career in corporate finance

        I understand the weakness of my GMAT quant and wonder how much this alters the universe of schools i am realistically able to apply to.

        thanks again for your help.

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          I too am concerned that your quant score will seriously damage your chances. Obviously there is evidence in terms of your GPA and work that you can do math. However, the quant score is a red flag and if you want to have a reasonable chance at HBS and its ilk, the conservative, prudent things to do is to retake and raise your quant score.
          Other than the quant score you have a competitive profile for HBS, Wharton, Haas, NYU Stern, CBS, and Chicago Booth. If you don’t retake apply to let’s 3 or 4 R1 from the schools I just listed, and if you aren’t accepted apply R2 to schools like Duke, UCLA, Cornell, Georgetown, and UNC.

  • Thanks

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you so much for providing this service. Here is my profile:

    1) I have 5 years of work experience. The past 3 years, I served as a Teach For America teacher, and then was promoted to the Vice Principal after my second year, where I managed other teachers and was responsible for discipline. Further, I concurrently served as the Executive Director of a local foundation, exceeding my goals, and the executive director of a local community center.

    2) GRE: 167 Verbal (97th percentile), 166 Quantitative (96th). According to the conversion table on ETS, it equates to roughly a 750 on the GMAT.

    3) GPA: 3.64 Miami University (OH) in Operations Management. I graduated in 2009.

    4) Extracurriculars: Founded first chapter of GLSEN in Deep South and serve as board chair; founded and directed local internship program for college students in Mississippi and it is now in its 3 year; served on the co-founding committee of a marathon in MS, and it had a 750,000 economic impact; raised over $150,000 on a team to lead trips for students to Greece, Paris/Spain, Boston to visit highly selective, need-blind universities, and to Philadelphia.

    6) Work in consulting to gain private sector experience, and then work in government in the rural south.

    • Thanks

      Sorry, 166 is 92nd percentile, not 96th. Thank you again.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      I saw your correction.
      Impressive. You have a competitive profile for HBS and other top MBA programs.

  • Coolguest

    Hi Linda, great site. Hoping you can weigh in on my candidacy for HBS. Thanks in advance!

    Male, Age 24
    1) Graduated early from college, managed a restaurant ~6mo until med school. In 3rd year of med school now.
    2) GRE: Verbal 95%ile, Quant 88%ile, Writing 92%ile. USMLE (med boards) 93%ile.
    3) College: top 20, 3.53, Neuroscience, 2011. Med School: top 20, 3.65.
    4) Founded a company that supports medtech startups (team of ~20 people currently). Leadership role (largely nominal) in a surgical device development organization. Handful of academic publications in various fields. Working on a patent for a surgical device. Academic mentor to ~10 undergrads. Resident Advisor in college. Founded club sports team for school in college.
    5) MD in progress. CPR, ACLS.
    6) Medtech VC.

    Your feedback is much appreciated. Best Regards.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Interesting. Academic stats are competitive. Work experience is competitive. You’ll need to explain switch from medicine to business. But go for it!

  • Coolguest

    Hi Linda, can you please evaluate my profile for HBS

    1) Female, 26, Indian
    1) Graduation: IIT Bombay (2009, GPA of 8.56 on the scale of 10)
    2) GMAT: 710 (Quant 88%ile, Verbal 71%ile) AWA: 6.0
    3) Work Experience:
    Global management consulting firm (1 year) in India
    Private equity fund, AUM of US$ 5 bn (3 years) in India

    Your feedback is much appreciated.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      HBS is a stretch. Your grades and work experience are strong, but you don’t mention leadership at all and that is critical for HBS. You also don’t mention community service, which is desirable.

  • Average_Hoser

    1. Two years as an energy analyst, two
    years as a senior energy analyst, leading a team of 4, at an international
    consulting/research firm focused on mining, metals and energy.

    2) GMAT score 720

    3) University of British Columbia, Bachelor of
    Commerce (Finance), GPA 3.3/4, Class of ’11. Heavily involved in extra curricular
    activities (student government vice president, academic case competitions, new student
    orientations, worked p/t throughout my degree ~ 15 hours/week). London School
    of Economics, Master of Science, Grade: Merit, Class of ’12

    4) Significant leadership in college (see above),
    continued that trend after graduation with involvement in professional

    5) Chartered Financial Analyst

    6) Coming from the financial valuations of
    Canada’s oilsands, I would like to use the Harvard MBA to transition my career
    towards Venture capital with a focus on clean tech/renewable start-ups

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Your GPA is a little low for HBS, but everything else is competitive and impressive. Given your undergrad in finance and your masters, use the small goals box to make a succinct case for why you need the MBA to achieve your goals or go into more detail in the optional essay.

      • Average_Hoser

        Thank you for your quick evaluation of my profile. I am not quite sure what you mean when you refer to the small goals box or optional essay? On the HBS admissions website it clearly states that, “There is one question for the Class of 2017″

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Average Hoser,

          You’re welcome.

          If you go into the online application you will see that there are several (very) short answer questions as part of the app. On p. 2 of the Employment section of the online application there is a question ” Briefly tell us more about your career aspirations:” HBS allows for a 500 character response. That’s what I meant about the small goals box.

          There are other similar short answer questions about jobs and activities, and they are important.


          • Average_Hoser

            Excellent, thank you for your insight. As you mentioned earlier my GPA is a probably a little light for HBS. In your opinion what would be the best/most effective use of my time to mitigate that blemish on my application?

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            At this point in time, given your MA and CFA and GMAT score, I think you’ve pretty much done what you can do. Focus now on making the best case for acceptance via your application.

            Also, don’t count on HBS. IN addition apply to other schools that support your goals. Consider MIT Sloan, CBS, Wharton, Chicago, Stanford, Haas, and UT.

  • Gio

    I’ll really appreciate you if you evaluate my profile. I want to apply to HBS in three years or so.

    1) I’m from Lima, Peru. 23 years old. I’ve recently graduated and now part of Accenture consulting firm as an analyst, working in the implementation of CRM system in a Insurance company.

    2) GMAT 720

    3) Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria (The best engineering public university in Peru)

    -2nd ranker in college

    -During 3 consecutive semesters Honor Roll student

    -National Math Olympiad Finalist organized by École Polytechnique (Paris, France)

    -According with peruvian peruvian grading system corresponding me a 4.0 GPA

    4)- Part of the programming team in college

    -Writer in a important web page about postgraduate programs

    5) None, probably I´m going to IESE for a Summer School Program the next year.

    6) I want to return to my country and especialize in finance, most likely to start and run my own company.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      I think it’s on the early side for me to be assessing your competitiveness 3 years hence, but certainly what you have is impressive and HBS material. Keep up the good work.

  • prayedmidget

    Hi Linda,

    I wanted to enquire if the Indian Chartered Accountancy course is recognized for admission into HBS, I also have a Bachelors degree in commerce from IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University).

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      I’m not sure what you mean by “recognized.” It’s not a requirement for admissions, but they will recognize it as the Indian equivalent of the U.S. CPA.

  • Deepak Ramkrishna

    Hi Linda,

    My name is Deepak Ramkrishna. I am a 24 year old from India. I would really appreciate your feedback on my profile!

    1) I have been working with Citibank, in Mumbai, for the last 2 years as a mortgage sales manager. I manage a team of 5, and am responsible for managing HNI retail clients through the loan life cycle and for driving mortgage sales by and engaging with our branches and liaising with developers and real estate brokers. I achieved the highest ever monthly mortgage origination in the country earlier this year.

    2) GMAT 750 – 98 percentile
    Q – 49 – 81 percentile
    IR – 8 – 93 percentile
    V – 44 – 98 percentile

    3) NMIMS University, Mumbai. GPA of 3.75/4, top 10 in the University. I attended a 5 year course called MBA (Tech), which is an integrated dual degree course, which I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Information Technology and an MBA in Technology Management.

    A primary concern I have regarding my application is that I already have an MBA and only 2 years of full-time experience. (though I had 3 great internship stints). Having primarily been interested in programming and computer science through high school, I decided to enroll in this integrated course, which given its condensed nature, called for intensive coursework. At times the management courses ran in parallel with the core technical courses. Given that I had no work experience I believe I may not have imbibed as much from the management courses then as I can now, after working for a large organization for 2 years, especially in understanding the applicability and impact of management theories. While I truly value what I learnt during my post graduation in India I truly believe that another MBA especially from a top University can truly transform my professional career by providing an opportunity to learn best practices from some of the top minds in the industry and a platform for networking with distinguished peers.

    4) I was the Editor of the college magazine for 2 years and a core committee member of a student body that provided the students from our college to interact with leading industry professionally and network with potential employers by organizing seminars and guest lectures. I will also be volunteering for an NGO called Make a Difference, starting next month, teaching English to underprivileged children in Mumbai.

    5) NA

    6) In the medium term I would like to work in sales and marketing strategy for a multinational firm, however in the short term, I would love to work in a strategy consulting firm so that I may gain exposure and understanding of various industries and verticals.

    I am planning on applying to HBS, Kellogg, Stanford and Columbia in the first round. I would really appreciate feedback on my compatibility and chances of getting into these universities and on any other colleges where you think I should apply.


    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham


      With the possible exception of Stanford, your target programs are all stretch programs.

      You and I share the same concerns:

      1. Your previous MBA. First of all verify that all these schools will consider your application given the prior MBA. (I believe they will) Then be prepared to explain why you need a second MBA not in terms of brand or rank, but in terms of what this second MBA will enable you to do that your first one did not enable.
      2. Your relative lack of experience. While it appears your experience has been rich and strong, it is brief. You can apply and see who will accept you now, but an additional year of two of work experience with career growth and progression should strengthen your case of admission.

      One other point, you say that you believe you did not benefit as much as you should have from your MBA due to lack of experience. That may not be the best argument to make given that you still only have two years of experience (3 at matriculation) which is still at the shorter end for most schools, especially Kellogg.


  • Aspirant

    Dear Linda,

    I am an Indian female. Age 29 yrs.

    Bachelors in Commerce (Narsee Monjee – One of the best commerce colleges in India – Mumbai University) + Chartered Accountant + 2 Yrs Full Time Post Graduate Diploma in Management (Indian equivalent of an MBA from Top 10 B School Brands in India).


    12th Grade – Received State Government Scholarship for Top 30 meritorious students in the state of Maharashtra (Population 114 million)
    Bachelors – Top 10% in Mumbai University
    CA – Level 1 & 2 – Cleared in One shot – Post 12th Grade along with my Graduation… Level 3 – Split papers and took exams in parts as had got through to an elite 2 yr full time demanding PGDM program and decided to take CA level 3 exams side by side during PGDM vacations.
    PGDM – CGPA – 7.9 (Top 5% that is within the Top 18 students at the School – The Topper was around 8.3) – Received Dean’s Scholarship for Topping Marketing Course in Yr 1

    PGDM Summer Internship – 2 months – Strategy Consulting for a Not for Profit Orgn

    Hence was a young achiever with B.Com+CA+PGDM at 24 yrs

    Chartered Accountancy Articleship – 3 years – KPMG – Assurance

    Post PGDM – 4 years – Tata Consultancy Services (USD 60 billion company – The largest company in India in terms of Market Capitalization) Work Profile – Pre Sales, Strategy & Solutions – Financial Services Practice. Also was a TAS 2012 Finalist (Tata Administrative Services – USD 109 billion Tata Group’s Young Leadership Pipeline Program) from over 5000+applicants across 95+ Tata Group companies worldwide.

    Gave it all up to pursue what I am passionate about – The Development Sector – being the change I wish to see, touching lives and making a difference.

    Past 1 year – Part of the Core Strategy Team along with the Group Chairman, CEO and the Board, at one of the Largest Corporate Foundations in India with presence in 15 states impacting 290 million lives having collaborations with State Governments, Multi Lateral Agencies, other large corporates, Universities like Harvard, NYU, etc. for research. I drive strategy planning and implementation across all the foundation’s initiatives in Healthcare, Safe Drinking Water, Rural Livelihood, Education & Sustainable solutions. Have also spearheaded the streamlining of processes across initiatives, monitoring & review mechanisms, impact assessment & CSR Policy roll out across the Group’s companies.

    Now want to pursue my MBA / MPA / Public Policy – Fall 2015 as it shall give me a broader platform, to be able to learn, develop skills, be exposed to multitude of things, be able to work with Bi Lateral Multilateral Agencies, and be able to contribute back to the country & society, to be able to influence a larger change.

    (P.S. I would have spent 2 yrs at the Foundation until Fall 2015

    So Total Work Exp (Post PGDM) until Fall 2015 = 6 yrs = 4 yrs at TCS and 2 yrs at The Foundation in addition to 3 yrs Articleship at KPMG)

    GMAT – 650 (As had taken it in 2012 on a One week’s study notice during Tata Administrative Services. GMAT being a prerequisite for TAS). And now do not really have the bandwidth to take the GMAT again.

    Volunteering Projects:

    – Akanksha Foundation (Teaching Underprivileged kids)

    - Signed up for Teach India’s Volunteering Spoken English Program – Teaching English to unemployed youth. It is a Skill Building Program to make them more employable hence changing their state of poverty and bringing about shared prosperity

    - Signed up with the Office of Governor of the Largest Indian State for a 3 month Internship

    - Free Lancing photographer – I take up professional still photography assignments for NGOs for them to use those photographs in their Marketing campaigns, brochures, annual reports, websites, etc.

    Wish to apply for:

    - Harvard – MPA

    - Stanford MBA – As per their site, have to take the MBA way and choose Yr 2 Specialization option in Public Policy (Direct 2 yrs in Public Policy would have been possible had I been a Stanford Undergrad)

    - Wharton MBA – Same as Stanford – Yr 2 Specialization in Social Impact

    - Columbia MBA – Same as Stanford – Yr 2 Specialization Social Enterprise

    - MIT MBA – Same as above

    - Kellogg MBA – Same as above – Specialization in Social Enterprise (Also basis their site Yr 1 could be waived as my PGDM covers the requires subjects – Direct access to Yr 2 possible)

    - London School of Economics – MPA

    May I request you to view my candidature and let me know if I stand a chance at the above schools basis my overall profile inspite of my comparative low GMAT Score?

    Also who should I choose for Letter of Recommendations? Do letters from Alumni or Organisation heads who I may have closely interacted with help build my case?