Back Office to PE, On Her Second Try

Back Office to PE, On Her Second Try


Re-applicants have an advantage in that they know at least one approach that will not work for them. This finance professional had a solid career in the back office of a major commercial bank, but her dreams of front office private equity work were dashed by a full slate of MBA rejections. The next year, she came to us for help.

760 GMAT Score
3.3 Undergrad GPA
Undergrad Resume Top 50 US undergraduate; Back office at commercial bank

The Situation

Those PE goals were a clear liability. It’s an incredibly competitive industry, and not one that usually hires people with this applicant’s prior experience. In addition, she had an unimpressive GPA from an undergraduate school that was at the margins of the typical PE recruiting pool. These factors had made her proposed career trajectory a little too “pie in the sky” for top B-schools’ tastes.

However, as a re-applicant, a complete reworking of her future goals would be a risk. It would telegraph to adcoms that she wasn’t very sure about her goals in the first place—and ambitious goals are certainly better than uncertain ones. We had to decide: Would we scrap the goals she had provided last year and say that she wanted to continue working in back office roles, explaining the change in heart; or would we keep private equity as her goal, but change our reasoning?

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Our Solution.

The applicant was committed to PE, so we focused on crafting a new argument for that future career. Our approached focused on a unique aspect of her work experience: she had managed multiple AI projects and had deep knowledge of that emerging industry. Emphasizing that experience allowed us to accomplish two goals at once. First, it made her path to PE more plausible, qualifying her as the type of industry expert that PE firms are often willing to pursue even outside their normal hiring pool. Second, the demonstrated technical achievement helped overcome any concerns the adcom might have about the applicant’s low undergraduate GPA. Before engaging our services, this client was very intimidated about the prospect of putting herself in front of adcoms that had rejected her just a year before. She questioned whether anything about her life had changed enough to merit admission. We were able to show her (and the adcom) that she was ready—the rejections were just a matter of presentation. With a spruced-up narrative, she was able to gain admissions to three schools that had turned her away, including CBS, where she matriculated.

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