Seasoned Leader Overcomes GMAT

Seasoned Leader Overcomes GMAT


Higher than average age and a low GMAT are both liabilities in the MBA admissions game, and they often come together. This applicant needed to convince the adcom that he was ready to return to school at age 33, even though he had fumbled the GMAT, the only exam he’d encountered in at least a decade. An EMBA would have been an obvious route, but due to some peculiarities of his situation, it was not an option. In addition, our client was a re-applicant whose established career had not change significantly since the prior admissions season.

660 GMAT Score
3.2 Undergrad GPA
Undergrad Resume Ivy Undergraduate; Finance analyst; Technical Expert at Regulatory Agency; Upstream Oil & Gas

The Situation

Age means experience, and this applicant had a lot. His career spanned a decade and dozens of countries, including time in finance, government and (most recently) the upstream oil and gas industry. There was a lot to like in the profile, including impressive early-career quantitative achievements that he wanted to use to mitigate his low GMAT. The applicant had put a lot of work into all of his jobs, and was understandably eager to convey the wide scope of his achievements.

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Our Solution.

In our view, that would have been a serious mistake. While the resume gives a bird’s eye view of everything an applicant has done, essays do not benefit from diffuse emphasis. We encouraged the applicant to focus almost entirely on his most recent four years as a manager in the energy industry. Upstream oil & gas work often involves leadership at scales that are totally impossible for junior employees in other industries, and his time overseeing teams of almost 40 people would both impress and explain his dire need for a full-time MBA. By portraying his time in other industries as part of a journey toward his true calling (upstream oil & gas), we explained why it had taken the applicant so long to apply, and positioned him as someone who was essentially only four years into an energy industry career. The result was a compelling urgency that had been missing in the prior application round. When you’re drilling offshore and there’s a hurricane on the horizon, who has time for trifles like the GMAT? Adcoms seemed to agree: this applicant accepted an offer from Chicago Booth, and CBS.

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