Brand Name Buyside and MBA Admissions

Hi guys, wondering how important of a factor brand name of employer is in the application process for top MBA programs like HBS and GSB. I understand that adcoms want to use the selectivity of your job position as a screen for talent, but there are many smaller buyside firms with decent AUM that are still pretty selective and yet are not household names. For context, I work at a smaller GE fund that has a decent AUM relative to the number of people (e.g. Silversmith, Stripes, Level) and am hoping to apply to the MBA programs mentioned. Despite checking many of the boxes and being very happy with my job, I wonder if my employer's brand (or lack thereof) would negatively impact my chances, even if slightly? Or, is it good enough to be on the buyside and have meaningful deal experience? Anyone have ideas on this? Thanks.

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Comments (9)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 2, 2021 - 5:04pm

My 2 cents. It is important to an extent, but if you're a non-diversity male candidate, there's a significant number of people at MFs getting rejected at these schools. Leads me to believe that if you're coming from the PE pool, your story is more important than the particular firm you work for. 

Apr 5, 2021 - 8:28am

have heard from friends who have gotten in that the school / job / gpa and etc. are just check the box at this point, especially as some of the top schools shift towards more tech / engineer candidates, they want to see someone in finance who is "interesting" so definitely focus on refining your personal story as that appears to be the make / break factor rather than the throwaway metrics like GMAT and etc.


  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
Apr 6, 2021 - 3:46am

If you are at a brand name PE firm, you will likely get into HBS/GSB. If you are at a smaller/less known firm, you might still get in, but less likely. 

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Apr 6, 2021 - 9:30am

Agreed. Nowadays it seems that even if you are at a brand name PE firm and you hit the standard boxes (good undergrad GPA, 700+ GMAT), you'll likely get into Wharton, but HBS / GSB are probably crapshoots, especially if you don't have an angle.

That being said, I've heard that PE recruiting at Wharton isn't as much of a step down from HBS / GSB as one would think, provided you had a good PE experience pre-MBA. 

  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
Apr 7, 2021 - 4:19am

Of course not every single person will get in, but if you have MF PE experience, you are very likely getting in. Just get on LinkedIn and look how many pre-MBA MF associates went to H/S vs. any other school and you'll see the vast majority go to H/S. It's obviously not a lock, as nothing is, but it is pretty close. This obviously doesn't include the MF people who got rejected and didn't get an MBA at all, but if you look at the number of people at H/S from MFs vs other funds year after year, you'll see the trend.

I will caveat that my answer is pre-covid (ie up to fall 2018 matriculation). Maybe with the increased focus on diversity these days things have changed, but I can't comment on that.

Source: SO went to HBS + several of my close friends

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