Professional Strength

Nationality Competitiveness


No managerial nor business experience

The Story:

This candidate came from the field of education and had no managerial experience. However, her scores were good, and her personal story was both exotic and applicable to the MBA path. She had spent a lot of time in South America doing complex volunteer work and had a Masters in Education. If you know how to approach this type of scenario - meaning, you see the potential in the uniqueness of the experiences in addition to the ability to tie those experience to possible career paths - this type of candidate is a perfect combination. The combination is strong because the stories inherently stand out, and the MBA doesn’t seem like just a notch in someone’s belt, but can directly support the overall career ambition. In this particular case, our candidate’s husband was also applying to MBA programs. But his stats were a little different; 690 GMAT, 3.3 GPA, and worked in tech. No doubt, a much tamer story. In this case, we knew the wife’s application would be doing the majority of the work for both of them; if her’s looked exceptionally strong, he would benefit from association.

The Strategy:

Speaking to the Heart

Our aim for all candidates, and this candidate in particular, was to make sure her application portrayed her as the genuine, well-meaning, passionate, motivated, and active person she is. While she had no “formal” managerial experience, our central story revolved around her pro-bono work in South America where she volunteered to build a community library. This project, as you can imagine, was no small task; when you go into the details of orchestrating such an ambition, managerial qualities rise to the surface quickly – from helping teams run smoothly, to making sure everyone was on track, to maintaining timelines, and seeing the project through from ideation to completion. To tie her into a relevant and increasingly important field for MBA careers, we highlighted her Master’s in Education. We built a career path that centered on an idealistic, proactive individual, who proved she could get things done. We wanted to keep using these qualities “for good” and made her long term goal to create a consulting firm for bettering the neglected education system back in her home country. For top tier MBA programs, this type of a personal background is a slam dunk: it not only shows the important qualities that it takes to succeed – it also shows admirable work with a worthy long term cause.


As for her husband, we needed to make sure that he sounded like he knew what he was doing. Since his background was very common, he could not compete with his wife’s moving tales. So, he needed to demonstrate a professionally robust (in terms of experiences and time) application that portrayed his interests in up and coming fields. At the time, he was working for a cyber company right at the time that cyber was becoming all the rage. A career story that centered around his desire to follow this field into future development and innovation was a key specific for tech schools like Stanford, Haas, and MIT Sloan. The fact that he had been working in a burgeoning field certainly helped target specific schools and helped him look the part.

The Results:

Both our candidate and her husband got accepted into Stanford.

The Lesson:

The important thing to understand is: just because you don’t have managerial experience, doesn’t mean you’re coming out of left field. So long as you can relate to an industry that can benefit from your receiving top tier business education, in this case: education, you can frame your unique experiences to show why you find that industry to be so important and what skills you’ve honed along the way. You just have to be willing to build a creative story. One last thing to keep in mind is to use their language. While maybe your experiences were not in a corporate or business oriented setting, if you describe your experiences using business vocabulary, it will help the committee envision the work you did on their terms and through their frames of reference. The less they have to stretch their imaginations to ensure you can do the work, the better.