Tier-1 IBD with Solid Numbers - H/S within reach?

Hi guys,

I'm in the process of thinking about applying to MBA's next fall, and was wondering if you guys could shed some light on my chances at top tier B-Schools. I would hopefully like to attend one of the "M7" - preferably H/S/W or MIT.


Undergraduate GPA: Non-HYP Ivy (Columbia/Penn/Dartmouth)
GPA: 3.9 magna cum laude, double major (Economics and Philosophy)
GMAT: 780 (took two years ago, senior in college)
Job: IBD 3rd yr analyst at GS/MS/JPM in Hong Kong

Prior Work Experience:
Completely lucked into a two-month internship at PetroChina (Beijing) worked for the Chief Marketing Director directly
Interned at a bulge-bracket IBD (BAML, Citi) sophomore year (New York)
Interned at another different bulge bracket IBD (CS, Barcap) junior year (New York)

Nothing spectacular... substantial work experience (in college, non-finance related) and volunteering, but again, nothing that really fundamentally changed the organization.

Those are the numbers - I'm not really sure what to expect. I'm an able writer, and I'm cognizant that I need to differentiate myself from the other Asian-BB males that are applying to these same schools. I was born in the US and raised in a pretty Americanized household - so my passion and pursuit of Philosophy / working in China is not as conventional as one might think. I barely knew Chinese in college - now I'm fluent.

With these stats, is the H/W/S MBA within reach? ...

Also in terms of the value of the MBA itself - I'm likely to get an associate promote at my bank, and I've built a strong network with Chinese/HK businesses/clients. Associate pay here is pretty substantial... so all in, the two years will cost me the equivalent about $500k - $600k (two years of IBD associate pay + tuition). I have no qualms about going back to my BB after graduation - I enjoy the job, the culture, and the people I work with. Does it even make sense for me to get the MBA? I've always enjoyed learning and meeting new people - money doesn't matter so much to me. Thanks everyone.

Comments (19)

Nov 15, 2010 - 1:46pm
audaciou02, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have a friend with similar stats to you but worked at Lazard. As much as he loved it, he wanted to get the network + business school experience before returning to a similar position to pretty much work for the rest of his life.

He's a very intelligent guy but obviously just wanted to build on his education and take some off-time. He's now at a H/W/S school and while he's not in NYC he likes the lifestyle.

But you should be careful, there are plenty of A types who are not getting into b-school because they think they have it made but they don't realize you've got 60 other people with similar credentials vying for the same spot. gluck

Nov 15, 2010 - 1:50pm
MPG, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why not jump to PE with that background?

Nov 15, 2010 - 2:12pm
MBA2013candidate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Geez it's that hard to get into H/S/W huh? =/ yeah... what i figured. Worst comes to worst I'll go to Columbia / Booth then. I wouldn't mind Booth actually, I just really want to avoid Columbia.

@mr. bellyaiche - I'm a firm believer that an undergraduate degree in this day and age is not a sufficient terminal degree. No matter how successful I may or may not be in my career with or without an MBA, I think the experience of the MBA itself will be invaluable. That is to say, even if I knew in my mind that the Harvard MBA will add 0 value to my career, my earning potential, my prestige / pedigree - I would still do it because I think being able to interact with some of the most brilliant, diverse, and accomplished individuals is a singular experience. As I said before, I grew up poor, enjoy modest things, so while I am making a lot of money now (well at least compared to what I grew up being accustomed to), it's more than sufficient. It's just one of those things where you can't really perform a cost-benefit analysis on.

Yeah, I can go to buy-side I guess. I'm not a particularly "financ-y" type of person. I'm very analytical and enjoy meeting new people. That's what attracts me about the sell-side business - the constant dealing with a lot of different people. Put me on the buyside... if I had to run due-diligence all day everyday with a singular interest on trying to make a lot of money, well not exactly my cup of tea. My BB pays pretty well... some VP's over here clear $1million USD so I mean... money's not the issue.

Anyone else comment on chances? It's really that hard to get in? I guess what surprises me is that, (by no means tooting my own horn), my stats should put me solidly in the top 15-20% of every single quantitative admissions criteria (School, GPA, GMAT). I think working at GS/MS/JPM internationally as an American should also put me solidly in the top 25% in terms of work experience as well, no? So what I'm saying is, do you really need that special special outstanding factor on your resume to gain admit into HBS? Stanford I can understand - much smaller class. But how the heck are they going to find the 1000 admits at HBS that can differentiate themselves to that extent?

Nov 15, 2010 - 2:25pm
2x2Matrix, what's your opinion? Comment below:


One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
Nov 15, 2010 - 2:24pm
MBA2013candidate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

^ Yeah, I don't really have a hook. I am planning to shape my application to tell a story about an Asian-American passionate about emerging economies in Asia (thereby turning down a top offer from NY to go to HK), looking to merge Western management expertise with a deep understanding of Asia-culture to enable myself to be a business leader in the region. I am a product of globalization, so-to speak. But honestly... after seeing all these Asian guys here, eh, not exactly something unique in this day and age.

What do you think - first impression, is it "hook-ish" enough? I mean it's not bullshit either - I am firmly passionate about my goals and firmly believe that being truly bilingual and bi-cultural is still somewhat unique. You have a lot of fobby Chinese guys who know english, but utterly fail to comprehend western culture and modes of thinking. You also have some ABC's who utterly fail to understand either than language or the culture. Finding the person who can truly navigate both societies with equal or near-equal fluidity is a lot rarer.

Not Columbia cause let's just say I've spent way too much time in New York (born there, grew up there, studied there, worked there).

Nov 15, 2010 - 3:37pm
HerSerendipity, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think the OP would be a pretty competitive candidate, especially as far as numbers go. Plus, at least you have the international aspect of working overseas. Of course it's competitive and there will be a lot of other guys who look like him, but I think the OP is a fairly blue chip candidate.

Nov 15, 2010 - 3:47pm
audaciou02, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have friends who are blue chip candidates and some did not get offers. It's really competitive and considering the down turn on Wall Street have your story down cold, be compelling and make sure your rationale isn't cookie cutter.

I've seen people from mid-office accounting firms get into HBS and people from top tier PE shops not land H/S/W...just be careful

Nov 15, 2010 - 4:12pm
mrbellaiche, what's your opinion? Comment below:

i think the OP is competitive just not likely to get into H/S/W. Though of course he has a better chance than most people and it comes down to execution. you hsould probably head over to the MBAApply ask alex thread and get him to answer your thoughts. from what my friends have gone through it is a lot more difficult to get into h/s/w with pure banking these days beacuse so many kids are top school + 2-3 years ibd and even more are entering wiht 2 years p/e experience. so you're probably likely to get in at places like MIT/Columbia/Booth but I highly doubt H/S unless you have something special going or can execute your story very well

Nov 15, 2010 - 11:20pm
International Pymp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Caution. Completely non-expert opinion:

I think you've got some chance to get into all three... excellent stats, strong undergraduate work, etc... but Wharton would be more likely than H/S and Stanford is particularly unlikely (they don't usually go for conventional types). The thing is - if I were you - I'd simply make a different play. Spend 1 or 2 years working in PE or industry in China or something and you'll really differentiate yourself from your banking peers. Then I'd bet you'll have a really good chance at all three places. After all that, 如果你的中文 really is like 十分不错, you'd be a great candidate for a megafund PE spot in China / HK.

  • 1
Nov 16, 2010 - 12:27am
MBA2013candidate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

我中文还行吧 - 一般来所,操作是没问题。不过,和本地 (清华,北大)那些分析师比起来在语言上还是有点差距。不过,我的英文是 "native speaker" 水平 - 他们的英语远远不如我的。

Thanks for the tip International Pymp - I've received calls from headhunters from some of the megacaps, but I guess I was always more interested in the business-school --> entrepreneur route in Asia. Money & 'prestige' of PE doesn't appeal to me much - one of the few luxuries of growing up with nothing! Call me a nerd, but the "learning" from other people aspect of top-tier MBA programs always seemed like something I would pay anything for. After all, what is life but the need to understand and be understood by other people? If there's anything I've learned, it's that relationships, relationships define us as individuals, and define us as human beings.

Anyway, thanks for the advice, I'll do some more DD on this and make my choices as I cross that bridge. Thanks guys.

Best Response
Nov 16, 2010 - 12:54am
International Pymp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Clearly you're going to be lacking against the guys from 北大and 清华 in terms of Chinese, but I don't think that matter's too much. Plus, as you said, your native level english is a huge asset. I feel like my main differentiator here is my ability to speak and write well in English (for marketing documents and investment committee memo's, etc).

I'm impressed with your attitude and your ability to resist the money and prestige of the megacaps... I feel like all I've ever wanted to do is work in PE, so it's hard for me to conceptualize, but I also respect it! You may be a "nerd", but I definitely agree with you that you could learn a lot from your peers at a top program...

I think you should take a shot - my gut tells me you'll get in somewhere. You've got a story, you've got language skills, you worked at a top bb, you have good grades, you have a very high gmat, you went to an ivy... give me a break! what is the world coming to if you can't get in anywhere!

  • 3
Nov 16, 2010 - 8:45am
lucasblane, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you want to go to HBS, land a position at Perella Weinberg Partners and you're pretty much guaranteed to get in. Joe Perella and Peter Weinberg are graduates and Perella is on the board.

  • 1
Nov 16, 2010 - 8:45am
lucasblane, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have great stats by the way. You just have to network and set yourself apart from everyone else.

Nov 16, 2010 - 1:56pm
asb201, what's your opinion? Comment below:
You have great stats by the way. You just have to network and set yourself apart from everyone else.

...Unless I'm missing something, how can you network for b-school?


Nov 16, 2010 - 2:19pm
audaciou02, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ipsa ea nisi eius quae eos ea. Pariatur eaque id expedita ut enim reiciendis aut. Omnis ex voluptas voluptas.

Voluptatem dolore corrupti unde. Dolores enim corrupti doloribus. Exercitationem nulla recusandae repellat placeat dolor. Consequatur sit qui culpa.

Start Discussion

Career Advancement Opportunities

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲05) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (= =) 99.2%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲04) 98.8%
  • Financial Technology Partners (+ +) 98.5%
  • Evercore (▽02) 98.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲12) 99.6%
  • Greenhill (▲07) 99.2%
  • Evercore (▲01) 98.8%
  • PJT Partners (▽02) 98.4%
  • Macquarie Group Limited ABN (▲20) 98.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲05) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (▲03) 99.2%
  • PwC Corporate Finance (▲12) 98.8%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲05) 98.5%
  • Houlihan Lokey (▲05) 98.1%

Total Avg Compensation

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $613
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (318) $407
  • Vice President (38) $392
  • Associates (208) $257
  • 2nd Year Analyst (130) $163
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (18) $159
  • 1st Year Analyst (436) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (83) $150