Admissions Consultant’s Corner: Meet Pauline Jennett, ex-Harvard Associate Director of MBA Admissions

Here’s the latest in a series of interviews with Senior Admissions Consultants from The MBA Exchange. Get to know the professionals who devote their experience, skills and passion to helping applicants gain acceptance to top-tier business schools.

Meet Pauline Jennett, Wharton MBA alumna and former Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School

1. What’s your best memory of being a b-school student?
I recall traveling with my fellow Wharton students and the African Business Club on a 3-week trek to Africa. Countries visited included Senegal, Ghana, Zimbabwe and The Gambia. My classmates had direct connections with the President of Ghana, so we received a private tour of the palace grounds and a Q&A session. Our picture with Ghanaian President Jerry John Rawlings, appeared in the national newspaper and when I met him during an educational trip years later in South Africa, he remembered our visit!

2. What was your favorite student club?
The Marketing Club; I was president and, due to my first job in the computer industry, I brought in executive speakers from IBM and other technology speakers. I went on to hold marketing roles in organizations including Gillette, Coca-Cola and HBS.

3. What was an unexpected experience at business school?
I spent a semester in my second year at IESE, in Barcelona, Spain. I recall studying HBS cases and debating in Spanish with my international classmates. My biggest surprise was the average number of languages (five!) most of the Dutch students spoke. I also remember how thoughtful my classmates were, when they insisted on cooking an American Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey and dressing, for the American exchange students.

4. What would your admissions clients be surprised to learn about you?

I also have a Divinity degree in Counseling. It definitely comes in handy as I get to learn the ins and outs of each of my individual clients!

5. What do you enjoy most about admissions consulting?
Listening to clients’ narratives about their goals, hopes and dreams and how an MBA can help achieve their short-term and long-term goals. I still happily remember the phone call from one of my clients who informed me that I was the second person he called after his parents when he received admission to HBS!

6. What are some of the misconceptions you hear most frequently from applicants?

Sometimes they’re nervous to tell me about a misstep they have made in their career. One of the biggest misconceptions is that admissions committees want “fake” mistakes; I constantly state that true, passionate authenticity is one of the most compelling aspects of an application.

7. Which class in your MBA program did you most enjoy?
My major was Strategic Management, but my favorite class was my Entrepreneurial Management class. We researched business plans and outlined our key launch phases, including capital investments, distribution and marketing. My ideas ranged from customized-delivery restaurants to a comprehensive card shop and wedding planning consultancy.

8. What are some of your hobbies?

Tennis, bike riding, piano, and traveling – I have visited 40 states and 34 countries including Russia, Norway, Finland, Amsterdam, France, Switzerland, Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica, India, Dubai, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, China and Belize.

9. What is the most surprising thing you ever learned about a client?
I have had several clients with military backgrounds. It’s always surprising and inspiring to hear about the extreme scenarios they have successfully navigated in the midst of very intense situations. There’s a long line of military involvement in my own family, so I remain grateful for the personal sacrifice that serving our country entails.

Pauline Jennett is a valued member of The MBA Exchange consulting team. She’s one of the 60 MBA graduates and former admissions officers who have helped over 3,300 applicants gain admission to leading business schools worldwide. If you’re a business school applicant who would like to enlist the experience, energy and talents of our exceptional team, please visit us at www.mbaexchange.com.