ADMITTED to London Business School!!!

I just got the great news, an email from London!!!!! Admitted!!!!! my wife too!!!

Dear XXXX,

Many congratulations! You have been admitted to London Business School.

On behalf of the Admissions Committee I am delighted to award you a place on London Business School’s MBA Programme, beginning August 2011 (Class of MBA2013).

Applications this year have been of outstanding quality. Your offer is an acknowledgement of the unique attributes we feel you possess and the contributions we think you will make to the class and to the School community. We look forward to welcoming a diverse group of talented and experienced individuals from all around the world into the class of MBA2013.

Our mission is to provide our students with the knowledge, skills, attributes and networks – the global business capabilities – required for leadership and success in demanding careers in the global economy. Our aim is to involve you in an outstanding business school experience that you will look back on as the most important career move of your life.

We are very proud of what we achieve at London Business School, and think you will be proud of what you can achieve working with us. Please accept our warmest congratulations on your offer. We look forward to welcoming you into the London Business School Community.

To hear a special message from Sir Andrew Likierman, Dean of London Business School, please click on the following link.


Congratulations once again, and welcome to London Business School!

Yours sincerely

Stephen Chadwick

Chicago Booth Admission letter

Admission letter just received! this is official! By the way, I’ll probably withdraw the MIT Sloan application, there is no much sense to continue with it when I’ve got admitted in my top choice.


Congratulations on being admitted to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Class of 2013!

We are pleased to welcome you to a community – and an experience – unlike any other. We select our students based on fit: a person’s drive, curiosity, and willingness to stretch his or her mind in new directions. We want students who will engage, debate, question, and be excited by the life-changing experience that is Chicago Booth.

As a student at Chicago Booth, you are part of the University of Chicago-an environment that fosters the creativity and collaboration that has fundamentally transformed the world. It is an electrifying experience, one that brings about great pride, great humility and an unmatched confidence to achieve success.

Here you will learn to interpret the world in a way that will affect every decision you make for the rest of your life, business or otherwise. Here you will experience a unique community of diverse individuals that will support and encourage your goals and your ideas. Here you will connect with students and alumni from around the world in settings as distinct as the people themselves. And you will fall in love with a world-class, cosmopolitan city that has never lost its small town charm and hospitality.

This is Chicago Booth-a place that will transform how you think, the way you live, your ability to lead, and the impact you will have. We are excited for you to join us and we look forward to welcoming you to the world’s best business school!

All the best,

Kurt Ahlm
Senior Director, Full-Time Admissions

Schools’ final decision dates

An update regarding the MBA applications final decisions that are coming very soon!

The key dates for each school are the following:

– The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Decision is released on Wednesday December 15. However, they call by phone all the admitted candidates that day or the day before.

– London Business School:
Decision is released on Wednesday December 15. No idea if they will call the admitted candidates or send an email.

– The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania:
Decision is released on Friday December 17. Again, no idea if the decision will be released by email or by phone.

– Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management:

This one follows a different process. They even have not released the interview decision, which will be released during December but there is no fix date. As happened in the others, I can be interviewed or denied without interview. In case I got an interview, the final decision will be on January 31.

The thing is that in Hong Kong we are +13 hours from US time, so it is likely that I will receive the decision the following day early morning (if I’m lucky and I sleep something…).

I’m so anxious…

Wharton Interview done

I just came home from my Wharton interview.

This one has been totally different from the previous Chicago’s and LBS’ interviews. There weren’t any questions about why MBA, why now, career goals, or why Wharton, nor any conversation at all.

This year Wharton only makes “behavioral” questions, the same or very similar to all the candidates.

Yesterday I had prepared all my stories to be able to quickly find one that would hopefully fit the question asked. Anyway I knew it was going to be much harder than the previous interviews as I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sell my story or win my interviewer. I think I’m very good on long interviews where I can show who I really am, and not in a sort of “exam” where I’m only asked three questions and sent home.

The interviewer was a Consultant from Wharton (she wasn’t even a Wharton MBA graduate) and her job was to ask me three questions, take a lot of notes during my answers and report the answers and her opinion about these answers (I guess she scored them) to the AdCom.

The interview was in the One International Finance Center in Hong Kong, in Bain & Company offices. I arrived with 20 minutes and was asked to wait. Some time later the interviewer showed up and welcomed me.

Then we went to a small meeting room. She cordially explained that she would ask only three behavioral questions and that she would be taking a lot of notes. She also said that the interview would only last between 20 and 30 minutes.

And that’s all, let’s start. Are you prepared? one, two, three… go!
“Describe a time when you had to work with a team and had to accept the opinion of others”
I think my brain started working at 200% trying to choose the best story. In a few seconds I decided one and I started speaking. I knew I had to talk a lot (at least 5 minutes) and that I should try to “make points”, not only to answer the question. I then started explaining the context of my story, and a lot of things totally unrelated with the question. Suddenly, my brain went blind and I realized I had totally forgotten what she had exactly asked. I knew it was something about team work but with all my brain working on my story I forgot the question. I was just about to say “sorry, what was the question?” but well I decided to continue speaking (and probably avoided a 0 points in the first question). Thankfully, after a few seconds (and a lot of concentration) I remembered the question and I could adjust my story answer it.

At the end it was not bad as I managed to tell this important story. She asked a follow-up question regarding one part of my story but nothing else.

No time for more. While I was drinking some water, she was already asking me the second question. Some thing like:
“Tell me a time when you had to work in a team without a leader”
Here I decided to use my second strong story (so that way I would have discussed about my two strongest ones). I was more calm in this one and I think I made a lot of points :). I took the opportunity to talk about my work in New York in a multicultural team, in projects that involved a lot of communication with Europe, and how we worked in many projects as a team without having any declared manager. Again, I also spoke a lot about other things not totally related to the question…. I hope the girl’s report is not only strictly based on the answer but also reports some other things.

Finally, last question, the end was near.
“Tell me a time when you had to listen others’ view.”
She also said.. “I think this can be also answered with your first response… but please try to find a different story if you can¨
Another story? what? I was totally off the guard. I had to think at least 10-15 seconds to choose one and I’m not sure I chose the correct story. And well, I did it extremely well or extremely bad. Why? because I had prepared this story in case of asking about a “failure” and I used it to answer this question. In brief, someone told me something that I didn’t pay much attention, and at the end the other guy was right and I wasn’t. Therefore, I failed.
I don’t know what the interviewer will think about this, maybe she was surprised that I was honest about speaking about a failure (usually to have failures is something they like, in fact in the Wharton’s essays there is one about a failure), or maybe she will think I don’t pay attention to people in my team, that I’m a bad guy as I don’t listen others or whatever.

The “exam” was finished and I asked some questions about Wharton. But almost all her answers were: “I’m not sure about it”, “well, I’m not an MBA graduate so I don’t know”, “I would have to check that one”, and so on. I probably knew 200 times more about Wharton than her, so I stopped.

She wished me luck and the interview was finished.

Conclusion: I’m satisfied as I have been able to at least tell her three stories that showed a lot of leadership, multicultural and international experiences, successes and…… even failures!. However, I think I talked too much about things that were not very related to the questions themselves, so if she only reports the strict content related to the answers then I have a problem. Anyway, I can think 100 different ways that my interview could have turned worse than it has been, so I should be happy. I hope the failure thing won’t hurt me too much….

On the other hand, I have not liked the way Wharton is doing the interviews this year, when some people seem to know the questions before the actual interview. More about this year Wharton’s interview controversy in Poets & Quants.

Anyway guys, this is OVER!!!! I will leave on vacations this weekend or beginning the next week (still not decided where) and I will try to disconnect. It has been a very tough months and I need some days off to relax.

See you!

London Interview done

Yesterday I had my London Business School interview in Hong Kong.

The interviewer was an Alumnus that works in a European Investment Bank in Trading Floor (not trader but he is in his way to become one). He was graduated from two years ago though he had almost 7 years work experience before starting the MBA.

The interview was at 6 PM. I had taken half day off from work to have some time to prepare and to arrive to the place with time. The office was in the upper floors of one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong, and we met in an office with spectacular views to Hong Kong and next to the Trading Floor. It was impressive, but I’m very used to that as my work place is very similar.

Before the interview I thought the guy was British but at the end he wasn’t. He was from another Western European country. He was cordial but serious. He welcomed me, offered me a glass of water and we went to the meeting room. He had printed my entire application (I already knew the interview wasn’t blind).

Once there, he explained me the interview structure: he would make me questions, then the 5 minutes impromptu presentation and finally he would talk about his career and answer to my questions. About the presentation, he said that he had chosen one topic among six proposed by the AdCom, that it was fine for him if I spoke less than 5 minutes, and that the goal was to see how I think and how I make presentations.

So he started asking me questions taking some notes as I spoke. Here some I remember and in this order:
– Explain me who you are
– Tell me when you had a conflict leading people (I was surprised with this hard question so early)
– Tell me when you led people and you resolved a conflict with someone else in your team
– Tell me what you learned in those situations
– What strengths and weaknesses the people you led would tell me about you?
– Why an MBA and why now
– Career goals
– Why your current career won’t help you to achieve your goals and you prefer to do an MBA?
– I see you have applied to other schools, why would you choose LBS over them? Why did you apply to Wharton? and Chicago? and MIT?
– What do you like from LBS?
– How would you be involved in the LBS community?
– Tell me when you had a cultural shock problem and how did you solve it
– Why are you interested in X? (something specific about the school that I’ve put in my essays)
– What is happening in the world regarding the financial crisis?
– What are the problems Spain has? (I’m from Spain, in case you don’t know)
– What would you change in Spain regarding those problems?

Then he gave me a piece of paper, a pen and the topic of the presentation. He gave me about 3-5 minutes to prepare it. I then started quickly brainstorming and trying to find ideas, examples, etc. It remembered me a lot to a TOEFL Speaking question. The difference was that the topic was harder but I had much more time to prepare. I found some ideas and some examples and when I was ready I started the presentation. He listened without interrupting or saying anything. I think I spoke about 5 minutes but I’m not sure, maybe it was less. Honestly I think I did it better than I expected and at least I said things and I didn’t get stuck after 30 seconds. Anyway it wasn’t great but I hope they take into account I’m not native.

The last 30 minutes of the interview were very interesting as he spoke a lot about his career, the MBA program, why I should do it, about things he liked, things he didn’t, about the city of London, where to live, what clubs he liked, about the study groups, first and second year projects, internship, etc. I made him a lot of questions as we spoke. He knew my wife was also applying so we spoke a bit about her (for example I asked if the school provides opportunities for people with her goals). It was a very interesting conversation and I think he was honest in all his opinions.

The whole think lasted about 1h20 minutes. In summary, I think I did a good job. The interview was far more difficult that Chicago’s. Of course I would change some things and some answers but I think I managed to show him who I am and why LBS should accept me. I’m happy how the interview went and I think he will do a good report about me. Again, we’ll see if I’m right by mid

Tomorrow… Wharton!

Booth interview done

I just came back from my Chicago interview. I’m very happy with how it went.

As I told you in previous post, my interviewer has a good position within an American bank here in Hong Kong. The interview was in a meeting room at his office in Hong Kong.

I arrived 15 minutes before the interview and I was addressed to a meeting room where the interview would be held. I was then alone waiting for him and 20 minutes later a women arrived telling me that he was busy with something and that he would arrive late. I was a bit anxious during all of this waiting time but I have to say that I kept my nervous very well. Finally, he showed up about 15 minutes after our appointment.

He apologized for keeping me waiting and quickly started talking. We exchanged business cards, something that in Hong Kong is important. Then he presented himself briefly and told me that he had been working and living in several continents (as I did) and explained about his different positions he has held. He spoke about finance stuff that I didn’t completely understand but well I quickly figured out that he was a very financial focused guy. He told me his parents were from Hong Kong but he was born and spent almost all his life in Canada.

Then he told me to present myself. I started speaking about my education, when I moved to Grenoble (France), my work in Amadeus in Nice, then about when I moved to New York to work at Société Générale, and finally when I was transferred to Hong Kong. He let me speak during 5-10 minutes where I went through my different positions, projects I led and so on. I had prepared a lot the “walk your resume” questions so I did well, trying not to bore him but also not forgetting anything important.

Next, he was interested in my last position here in Hong Kong, as I’m very close to the trading floors and he actually works there. I explained what I do here and he was very interested. He made me a couple of specific questions regarding one of the projects I managed and I answered very well. It seemed like he wanted to verify I knew what I was talking about.

Then he started asking why I want to do an MBA and why now. Then why Booth is my best fit and so on, and why I plan to learn in case I’m accepted. I answered with totally sincerity and we started a great conversation about the school, about my career and many things about Chicago. It was a great time because he started to be relaxed and started to open himself, being very helpful.

Finally, he asked me what I like from Hong Kong, or why I don’t prefer to continue working where I work now instead of spending two years studying. I answered with good reasons and he seemed totally convinced. He also asked me about my wife, and I explained him that she was also applying (maybe he already knew? it was kind of weird to ask me for her) and he said it was great to share the experience together.

An that’s all, no more questions for me. He asked if I had questions for him. I had prepared some, although I have been doing a lot of research about Chicago and I was more interested in his experience (I had already told him that I knew many people from Chicago and that I had contacted many current students so I didn’t need to show him that I knew about the program). I asked him how Booth had helped him in his career. He started speaking a lot about Booth and how it has helped in his career. He seemed very comfortable speaking with me and the conversation was going very good. At the end he started using “I suggest you that when you are in Chicago you should choose this and this”, “you should live the first year here and the second there”. etc. He changed his initial tone “if you are accepted” to more like seeming like “you are going to be accepted”. I felt that way and the last 20 minutes we spoke about the school, about other different schools and many things about my career possibilities.

At the end, we ended the conversation with very good words and he said something like “I like your profile for Chicago” or “you are a perfect fit for the school” or “I don’t have any regrets on your applications”, and “you will be very happy in Chicago”. So overall I’m quite optimistic and I hope he will write a good report about me.

In conclusion, the interview was great and I believe I did a great job and I’m very satisfied with how the conversation went. Honestly, I think this interview will help me to be admitted. We’ll see in a month!

If you are reading this and you have your MBA interview soon, I think the interviews of this kind you should do your best to sell yourself, the interviewer is not going to ask you the questions you want (I would have loved to tell him more about some stories but he didn’t ask anything that could have led me to speak about them), so try to use each of the questions to convey the ideas you want he remember about you. Once the interview is finished, ask yourself: Did I speak about leadership? Did I say I’m X, Y or Z? Did I speak about my stories A, B or C? Did I say an MBA from X School is the best option for me?

Interviews schedule

In the next two weeks I will be doing the interviews.

The first one is Chicago’s, which will be hold this Thursday morning. I will be interviewed by an Alumnus here in Hong Kong. He a big guy of a well known US bank and he graduated from Chicago about 10 years ago. The interview will be in his office and will last about an hour.

On the other hand, Wharton interview will be on Friday 19 with an AdCom member. About LBS I don’t have yet the instructions of the interview. In the invitation email said that the process of scheduling the interview could last up to 2 weeks. I hope to receive the appointment as soon as possible as I have a week of vacations at the end of the month and I would like to be done with the interviews and travel somewhere. By the way, MIT interview decisions are sent beginning December.

I have been preparing a bit the past days. As my wife has also interviews we are asking each other a lot and trying to prepare the questions that we may receive.

I will let you know how the interview goes.

Wharton invitation to interview!!

This is great! My third invite of the season!

I woke up this morning and first thing I did is to check my gmail and saw the “Wharton Invitation to Interview” email. I think I have been dreaming about Wharton during my sleep tonight :). Sincerely, I had a lot of doubts about this application, as I had applied about a week before the deadline and I didn’t get an invitation the first day.

I have already scheduled my interview in Hong Kong. I had the choice between an Alumni and an Adcom member, but I preferred to do it with the later.

Wharton, Chicago and LBS… I’m very excited. All my hard-work during the last year is paying off. I hope to finish off the task with good interviews and admissions in mid-December.

As “usual”, my wife also received an invitation :). It’s the best thing to share the happiness.

Here the email received:

Dear xxxx,

The status of your application has been updated and you have been invited to interview with the Wharton MBA Admissions Office. (Please look for the link to the letter inviting you to interview located at the bottom of the main page of your online application account.)

Please log into your Wharton account and select “Search” in the Events box to the right on the main page. Next select an interview type (On-Campus or Alumni) and proceed to schedule your interview. Please read the instructions given for each type of interview very carefully.

If scheduling an on-campus interview, select the date you are looking for and proceed. If scheduling a HUB location interview, select the location, and proceed to schedule your interview.

We look forward to meeting you in the near future.

Wharton MBA Admissions Office
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
420 Jon M Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340

LBS interview invitation!

I just received an invitation for interview from London Business School !!!
Honestly I was (a bit) confident I would receive this invitation. I know LBS likes diversity and my very international background is a solid strength in this case. I focused a lot on that on my essays. However, Harvard’s ding made me lose a bit of confidence in my applications.

LBS appeals a lot to me. First, it is a European school and I believe my network in Europe would be bigger attending LBS than attending an US schools (in some cases I may be wrong). Second, it has a financial brand and I’m very interested on developing my knowledge in that area during the program. Finally, it is located in London, where I’ve never been. Yes, I have visited more than 30 countries, lived in three continents but I never put my feet in the UK. I would love to live the London experience.
By the way, as happened in Chicago, my wife also got an invitation! This is a very good thing.

Here the email:

Dear xxx,

Thank you for submitting your application to the Full-time MBA Programme at London Business School commencing August 2011 (MBA2013).

I am delighted to inform you that based on the strength of your initial application you have been selected for interview by the MBA Admissions Committee.

Your interview arrangements will be organised by your regional representative from the MBA Recruitment & Admissions Team. All interviews are arranged by the MBA Office and then conducted by a London Business School alumnus.

It is important for you to remember that we interview all around the world, and that this process will take time to set up, (possibly up to two weeks). Please be patient during this time, but if you have had any location, phone or email address changes recently please make sure that you let us know about this as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the Programme, please do not hesitate to contact the regional representative who is responsible for processing your application. (Please see below).

Congratulations on reaching this stage – we wish you the very best of luck with your interview.

MBA Recruitment & Admissions Team

London Business School

Ding from Harvard

Two days ago I received a ding notification from Harvard, something expected after 2 weeks waiting for an interview invitation that never arrived.

Honestly I completed the application in a weekend, just after receiving my Toefl retake score (109, the minimum required). Perhaps I should have worked more on it, as I reused the essays written for Chicago, Wharton and LBS. Anyway I don’t think I could have done it much better at that time. However, the MIT application later forced me to write new essays (with its requirement that the stories must be from the last 3-years) that would have worked really well on Harvard’s essays. It is possible that I have focused too much on non-professional stories for my applications before the MIT’s.

During August I started to have doubts about applying to Harvard or not. First, at that time my Toefl score was far lower than the minimum required. And second, after doing a lot of research about the school, I had doubts about its 100% case method courses and to be part of an environment where I would have to “fight” and compete with 90 other students to say something in a one minute speech.

At the end I let aside the application, giving more priority to the ones I was more interested and I felt I had more chances.

Anyway, Harvard appealed a lot to me (brand name, general management focus, alumni network, campus, Boston, etc.), and when I received my new Toefl score in mid-September (109, exactly Harvard’s minimum) and I was almost done with the other application, I decided to apply. In a matter of a weekend I completed the application.

I’m of course disappointed as I had expected at least an interview. But well, I’m used to see always the good sides of everything. If I have not been selected, that may mean I’m not fit with the school, as I internally thought.

Very soon… LBS and Wharton decisions! If I not receive invitations then this time I will be really disappointed…

Harvard’s ding email:

Dear xxx:

The Harvard MBA Admissions Board sincerely appreciates your interest
in our program, and recognizes the considerable potential and strength
evident in your application. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you
a place in the MBA Class of 2013.

The MBA Admissions Board carefully and thoughtfully assesses each
application. Ultimately, it is a matter of numbers — due to the large
number of applications we receive, we are unable to admit many strong
candidates — candidates who have excellent credentials and who
demonstrate strong promise for careers in management.

In reviewing this round of applications, we saw a great deal of
talent, accomplishments and energy. Please know that composing a
cohort with maximum texture and range in experience and skill set is
an extremely difficult task, and not a reflection of your
qualification as an applicant. We thank you for considering our MBA
Program, and please accept our best wishes for future success.


Deirdre C. Leopold
Managing Director, MBA Admissions & Financial Aid

Interview invitation received from Chicago Booth!

Just got an Interview invitation from Chicago Booth!!! I’m so happy!!!!

Today is the first day Chicago sends invitations, though they will continue sending for two weeks. As I applied very early, like a week before the deadline, and my application status changed to “Complete” the day after the deadline (some people’s applications have changed to “Complete” this week), I knew my application was very likely to have been reviewed already. So either I had an invite today or I was dinged.

I have almost a month to schedule my interview with an Alumni here in Hong Kong (I already logged in the system and saw his name, and of course searched his name in Linkedin, a Finance guy very successful). I need some time to prepare it.

By the way, will keep you posted about Wharton, which sends the first batch of invitation this Friday. About Harvard, no news, though until November 2nd they still send invitations (very few). To MIT Sloan I submitted three days ago, I believe the strongest application I’ve made, though Sloan is not my top choice. It was the last one, so I have been improving my stories and my writing style.

PS: My wife also got an invitation!! :). We are both excited about the possibility of attending Chicago, one of our very top choices.

Here the email:

Dear xxx,

Congratulations, we have evaluated your application and are extending an invitation for you to interview with us in the next phase of our admissions process.

Interview Logistics (Please read carefully):

1. Please schedule your interview immediately! All interviews must be by completed by November 30th, regardless of location or by whom the interview is conducted. 2. All final admissions decisions will be released by 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 15th.

3. Interviews are available on-campus at the Harper Center or with Chicago Booth alumni around the world. If you have not already visited campus and would like to attend classes and meet with students, we strongly encourage that you schedule a visit along with your on-campus interview. http://www.chicagobooth.edu/fulltime/visit/

4. Interviews will be available on-campus on Saturday November13th and November 20th. Lunch with current students will be available for as well as building tours.

5. To schedule the interview, login to your online application, select “Interviews” in the menu bar on the left. You will have the option to select an on-campus interview or complete the alumni interview matching process. Please note that you are allowed only one successful alumni interview search. If you conduct a search that does not return an alumnus’ information, it means we do not have alumni available in that area. Either select another location or contact our office to see how we can assist you in setting up your interview.

6. Your interviewer will not have read your application prior to your interview. The only information he/she will have is the updated resume you submit at the time you schedule your interview.

7. Please note that your application status as “Invite to Interview” WILL NOT change even after the interview is completed. Your status will only change once a final decision has been made.

8. We invite you to share your feedback with us regarding your interview. Through your application account, you now have access to an optional and anonymous online survey which is aimed to assess the process for scheduling the interview and the interview itself. We value your opinion and look forward to learning from your experience.

9. All applicants are asked to bring a form of photo identification to the interview.

Should you have any questions regarding the admissions interview or are unable to schedule an interview online, please contact our interviewing team at: admissions@chicagobooth.edu.

Once again, congratulations on reaching this next step in the application process. We look forward to learning more about you during the coming weeks.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637
voice 773.702.7369 | Fax 773.702.9085

The 7 phases of the Business School application

Are you applying to MBA Schools this winter? Read this, I’m sure you will be identified ;).

I’d like to share with you this great summary of what most of us are going through.

This great post is originally written in gmatclub by lepium.


Let’s say you are 2 or 3 years out of college and the thought of an MBA starts lingering in your mind. Either you’ve heard some stories of former colleagues going for it and are curious about it or you think the name sounds cool.

You can talk to MBA alumni (if you have access to them) to start your research, or maybe to some friends. But this initial conversations can be biased (name 1 alumni who “officially” thinks his/her school sucked and you’ll get a bonus!) for all you know.

So you decide you need some “objective data” to continue your research and you go pick up the latest issue of US news/ B-week, or whichever one is available at newsstands. You browse through their pages and start wondering:

1st phase (the MBA honeymoon)

– Wait, wasn’t Kellogg a cereal brand?
– What’s with the GMAT scores? why 700? over 1000? that’s weird. What’s GMAT btw?
– Ah, finally, I know Yale, I know Harvard, I know Stanford, MIT and UCLA. But where’s Princeton? And Brown?
– I like International Business, so as per these rankings I should better be attending Thunderbird. But why are the starting salaries from there so much lower than from other schools?
– I loved Miami when I visited on spring break. Lemme see what their school’s like.

2nd phase (Delussional optimism)

– I’m a wise person, so GMAT shouldn’t be a problem for me. Maybe I’ll take one of these intensive 1-week courses and go for it! Why would anybody spend months studying? That doesn’t make any sense. I mean it’s high school level math and English for crying out loud. Heck, I can speak English, I’ve taken Calculus classes.

– I’m a clear admit at HBS, plus I’ll get a full scholarship. After all I’ll get a top GMAT, I do speak four languages and have made steady progress at work so far.

3rd phase (Depression while taming the beast)

– GMAT sucks. My friends no longer talk to me. My girlfriend broke up with me and spending 150k for an MBA doesn’t make much sense to me anymore (nor does it make sense to my family, my former friends nor my girlfriend). Do I really, really want to do this? Otherwise I could go back to having a life right now.

– Ok, so I’m headed for a 600 score, if I’m lucky. Let’s see what that would do for me. Hmm, I’d better score at least 650. Wait, 650 ain’t that bad! Oh boy, I’d kill for a 650.

– “So Johnny (an acquaintance of yours), how did your GMAT go?”
Johnny: “Oh man, I’m so depressed. I bombed my 7th attempt. I just can’t get past 550. I’m about giving up”
You: “Crap, Johnny, after all the effort you’ve put into this, I can’t believe what you are telling me. I mean, I’m still a zillion hours away from your study record to date. By the way, I’ll better be heading home and attack those SCs again!”

– (at 4am in the morning on a working day): I suck, I suck, I suck! I can’t believe the silly mistakes I’m making. Sigh, I wish I’d remember more about Statistics…

4th phase (post GMAT preliminary research)

– Ok, so I got a pretty decent GMAT. Now let me write sth and send my app right away so we can finally bring this “I’ll pretend I read your app.” game to an end. Let’s check the instructions.

1st question) What matters most to you an why? [3 to 5 pages]
Hmm. Maybe I’ll leave this one for tomorrow. Or let me brainstorm and write a shortlist:

1st shortlist (prior to any research):
a) Money.
b) Success.
c) Beer.
d) Getting my ticket stamped to land an IB job.

2nd shortlist (after some research):
a) Being mother Theresa.
b) Saving humanity.
c) Saving the environment.
d) “Changing the world”.

– I’ll apply to 147 schools. That way, I’d maximize my chances of getting a scholarship.

– What’s with the letter of recommendation? Should I tell my boss about my plans? It looks like the point of no return to me.

5th phase (applying, AKA the emotional roller-coaster)

[staring at essay#1 version # 84]: This sucks! I can’t believe how boring I sound. I should re-start from scratch!

– I should write about the snooker tournament I won when I was 16. That’d be original, plus I can spin it to show how I used my leadership, analytical and teamwork skills.

– Beh, I can apply in Round 2 as well.

– Crap! my recommenders haven’t even accessed the website yet and it’s only 2 days left! I’ll send them “friendly reminder #27”. No, wait, I sent #26 just 5 minutes ago. Maybe I’ll wait another half hour.

– Wait, was Kellogg’s deadline on the 5th? Or was that MIT? Maybe I should drop Wharton. I can’t make deadlines on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th. OK, I’ll just drop Wharton from my list and have it as “fresh” backup for next year just in case.

– I wish I had applied to more schools in Round 1. Look at all these people getting interviews and admits!

6th phase (post application blues)

– Shoot, I won’t get in anywhere. I mean look at the profiles of applicants! I should retake GMAT. My 700 is not enough. I should aim for 790+.

– Crap! Yale dinged me without interview! Ohmigod! If they did it, ANYONE can do it! THEY COULD ALL DO IT!

– I have an idea! I’ll check which schools have rolling admissions and apply to those. I still have time!

– Suddenly University of Phoenix Online doesn’t sound that bad.

– Why? Why? Why didn’t apply to more backups? Why did I have to shake my interviewer’s hand so firmly? Why didn’t I coach my recommenders more thoroughly? I wonder what they’ve written. Probably nothing good. I wish I had submitted my app. a day earlier, that way I would have looked as a well organized person. I read that Kellogg dings all applicants above 28 years old who haven’t made directors positions. Wait, is that a typo on my MIT essays? That’s one school less, buddy. I’m soo doomed.

7th phase (endless joy)

– Hell yeah! I’ve made it! I’ve been admitted [dream school X] next year! I rule! I can’t wait to get recruited by [dream employer]. When is admitted students weekend?

– 2nd admit! I rule!

– Should I go to [School X] with a 7k scholarship or to [School Y] with a 25 k scholarship?

– Work? What’s work? Ah, right, that thing I’m supposed to be doing daily on weekdays from 9 to 5…

– I wonder whether spending this 150k makes sense after all…

– I’m so gonna get grilled at B-school! What if I mess up? I’d better start brushing up on some skills.

Harvard first interview invites sent

Harvard sent out the first interview invitations by email yesterday. Unfortunately I didn’t receive any :(.

According to HBS, they plan to interview about 800 candidates in round 1, from whom they will accept about 400. The invitations are sent from October 15th to November 3rd on a rolling basis.

However, there is no official information but it seems that last year they sent about 600-700 of the interviews the first day, and the 100-150 remaining the following days.

In conclusion, this is bad news for me. Anyway, I don’t lose hope, anything can happen.

BTW, the interviews in Harvard are done by members of the AdCom and not by Alumni. That means the AdCoom’s members travel around the world to some major cities and make the interviews there. This year they will come to Hong Kong (last year they didn’t). A (very) small sign of hope. This year cities are:
Boston, MA
Menlo Park, CA
New York, NY
Dubai, UAE
Hong Kong
London, UK
Mumbai, India
Paris, France
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Shanghai, China

Wharton Round One Information

Wharton also sent an email regarding the application review process.

In short, the invitations are sent in two days, October 29th and November 5th. In addition, that day the dings without interview will be notified. For those who interview, the final decision will be on December 17th.

Here the full email:

Dear xxxxx,

Thank you for submitting your application for Round One.

The following will provide you with information concerning the processing of application materials, timeline for the release of interview invitations, and final decision releases.

If your online account reads “Complete – Round One,” your application has all the required materials, has been processed by the Operations Team, and has been forwarded to the Committee for review.

If your online account reads “Received,” then the Operations Team needs to process your online application submission and any materials submitted by hard copy. After your materials have been processed (assuming they arrived before the Round One deadline), your online account will be changed to “Complete for Round One” and your file will be forwarded to the Committee for review. Due to the high number of candidates who submitted their application during the past few days (more than 60% of candidates applying for Round One submitted their application within 24 hours of the deadline), it will take the Operations Team a couple of weeks to complete the processing of all materials. Therefore, please allow the Operations Team until Thursday, October 14th before inquiring about the completeness of your application.

The Admissions Committee will release interview invitations on Friday, October 29th and again on Friday, November 5th. Due to the nature and complexity associated with the admissions process there is no particular order in which invitations are released. Also on November 5th, the Committee will release all final admissions decisions to candidates that are not being invited for an interview and therefore no longer being considered for admission.

If you are invited for an interview, you will need to complete your interview by Friday, December 3rd. Interviews will be available on campus with second-year Wharton MBA Students who are full members of the Admissions Committee, off campus with alumni, and off campus in various “Hubs” around the world by Admissions staff members. All interview options are equally considered within the admissions process.

Candidates who are offered an interview will receive their final admissions decision by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, December 17th.

Thank you again for applying to Wharton. We look forward to reading your application.

Wharton MBA Admissions Committee
Lauder Admissions Committee
Penn Law School Admissions Committee

Applications submitted for Round 1

I submitted already 4 out of 5 applications!! Booth, Harvard, Wharton and LBS. My wife has also applied to all the schools but Harvard (she is not HBS fan).

I submitted every one with several days to spare ;). I have been working on this for months so I didn’t want any surprise at the very last moment. MIT is the only one is still not finished. I plan to do work on it next week, once I’m back from a trip to Spain. Yes! this Wednesday I’ll go to Madrid for the wedding of my wife’s older sister. It’s going to be a little exhausting as we will take 16 hours flights (one connection needed in Paris) and we’ll only stay there for 4 days… when I will be recover from the jet-lag I will have to come back. But well it’s always great to go there and visit family and friends.

On the recommenders side, they also have submitted their letters on time. To refresh your memory, my recommenders have been my former New York boss (French), a colleague from my current job in Hong Kong (also French), and the third (only for Harvard) another colleague from New York that works now in Johannesbourg and who is from Pakistan. I didn’t ask my current boss because he is in the position for less than two months (the former manager left the company). He is Chinese by the way.

Only my NY boss struggled to submit Wharton on time (he was kind of pissed off with Wharton’s questions), but eventually yesterday he did it, and I could sleep peacefully 😀 (today is Wharton’s deadline). I think I sent him 10 emails and reminders during the last week hehe.

I’m really grateful to them for this big effort. I didn’t know that it was so hard to write an MBA recommendation. I’ll buy them something but I’m out of ideas, I want to offer them something special.

Off topic, here some pics I took last Saturday in Hong Kong.

Bank of China building with Cheung Kong Centre reflected

Sham Shui Po Market

Surroundings of Sham Shui Po Market

Full Flickr Hong Kong’s album here.

Applications status, one week to go


I’m finishing round 1 (hopefully the last one) applications and I have been writing the essays during last weeks.

I have two people that read my essays, both friends. The first is a Spaniard friend with good English that reviews then and gives me her opinion about content. The second is an American friend of my parents that makes a review to check for any typo.

Here you have a quick status of my applications. Finally I’ve decided to apply to HBS, as it didn’t require me a lot of work and I’ve been able to reuse a lot from Booth and Wharton’s essays.

Chicago Booth: Deadline October 13th. Essays finished and reviewed. I will take a last look and submit them.
Wharton: Deadline October 4th. Essays finished and reviewed. I will take a last look and submit them.
LBS: Deadline October 6th. Essays finished, waiting for second review.
Harvard: Deadline October 1st. Essays finished, waiting for second review.
MIT Sloan: deadline October 26th. Not started.

Therefore, I have one week till the first deadline. I have to push my recommenders… my former NY supervisor told me that he is almost done, but my second recommender (a colleague from HK) hasn’t started yet…. By the way, I don’t have a recommendation from my current supervisor because he left the company three months ago, as well as his own supervisor. I then chose my formed NY supervisor because he knew me much better.

On the other hand, I’m also waiting to receive my undergraduate/graduate transcripts from my Spanish University (they are still translating everything to English). I already have the transcripts from the French one.

I’m happy as I have had the time to prepare all the applications I had planned to do months ago :).

To be continued……………..On y est presque!

How to improve your TOEFL score?

Hi guys,

Want to improve your Speaking and Writing TOEFL scores?

If you are a Spanish speaker, I suggest you to visit the TOEFL forum at Club MBA.

On the other hand, following my assignation as a new GMATClub moderator, I have been promoting some ideas to help people improve their TOEFL scores in that site too.

1) Conversation partners
The idea is to help people (willing to practice Speaking) to contact other users in the same situation, and then they can meet each other using Skype, MSN, etc. and speak in English, ask each other TOEFL questions, and so on. Trust me, I did it during my preparation and it helped me so much to improve my fluency.

2) Essays correction.
The idea is to post your TOEFL practice essays and other users comment on it, so you can find your errors and improve your writing.

Conversation partners
Essay correction

You can also enjoy for a lot of information about TOEFL, my own templates, courses discounts, and many other things.

Remember, you need to practice a lot if you want to improve your TOEFL score!

TOEFL is done, 109! Undecided about Harvard

Some good news! I’ve scored 109 in TOEFL! Enough for any top business school :). I was very concerned about not getting 104, the required minimum of Chicago Booth.

I’m very happy, this score was my ultimate goal.

The breakdown is:
– Reading: 29/30
– Listening: 29/30
– Speaking: 22/30
– Writing: 29/30

I’m a bit disappointed with the speaking score (worse than my previous attempt in March), as I think I did much better this time. I hope it’s nothing related with the microphone as during the exam I had to change it several times as no one worked fine (remember the story about the exam conditions).

However, I think the score is fair and the breakdown shows the reality of my English level. The speaking is by far the point I should improve from now to the beginning of the MBA. I will concentrate on that once I’m done with the applications.

This score may help me decide to apply to Harvard (its requirement is 109). Honestly Harvard is not my top choice, but well, it’s still Harvard… I will see if the application is easy and doesn’t need too much effort.