This is the first in a series of profiles on the winners of FIND MBA's recent MBA application advice contest.
Luis David Sena has over five years of work experience, mainly in the public sector. He’s also founded his own business. He did two bachelor’s degrees, one in Business Administration and the other in International Relations, both at the University of Evansville; he also has an MSc in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics. He got a 680 on the GMAT and wants to do an MBA from a top-tier school like Harvard, Stanford, MIT – Sloan, or London Business School, in order to help learn how to design new innovative strategies for businesses in the Latin American market.
FIND MBA spoke with three admissions consultants about Sena’s MBA applications, as well as what he can do to help improve his profile.
In general, the admissions consultants found that Sena’s work experience, which spans several domains in the public sector, was solid, and adequate for the schools he is considering applying to.
“His work experience looks really great, and it connects really well with his post-MBA goals,” says Dollaya Chaibongsai, the managing director of The MBA Exchange.
“That will speak very well to admissions committees. They'll be able to connect the dots and see the value that their MBA could have for him, and accelerate the path to his goals.”
Stacy Blackman advised that Sena use his application essays to really flesh out what he’s done during his career, and connect his past positions with future career goals. “Really make that story come alive,” she says. “If he wants to these schools, Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, and Wharton, he needs to show how he was a leader in his various roles.”
“I think the story could jump off the page, but he's got to dig a lot deeper.”
With a 680 GMAT score, Sena is batting well below the averages of the schools that he’s applying to. The median GMAT of the incoming class at Harvard, for instance, is 730; it’s 732 at Stanford. This, the admissions consultants agreed, could be an issue, especially if one part of the score—the verbal or the quantitative—was substantially higher than the other.
“He actually needs to look at his GMAT score and see whether one half of his GMAT score is out of balance with the other,” says Duncan Chapple. “Because a small improvement in the low half of an unbalanced GMAT score can produce a big increase in the final score.”
“The GMAT is below average,” says Stacy Blackman. “But it's one piece of the puzzle, so if he can pull together the rest of the puzzle, then he definitely might be ok.”
Besides Stanford, Harvard, MIT - Sloan, Booth, and LBS, Sena is also considering the University of Oxford’s Said Business School, INSEAD, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the Wharton School.
Dollaya Chaibongsai says that these schools would definitely help Sena along his career path. “The schools that he's targeting are very global in reach,” she says, and “are top ranked, and I think that's the right way to look at it.”
However, Duncan Chapple advises that, since Sena wants to work in the Latin American market, he should look more closely at schools with more robust connections to the region. “If he wants to be credibly serving the Latin American market, he has to be looking at the US schools with the best implantation in Latin America,” Chapple says.
“That definitely means Harvard, that means Stanford. I would certainly put Kellogg on that list,” since Kellogg’s Executive MBA program in Miami gives the school base there.
“And obviously, if you're looking at entrepreneurship in the Spanish-speaking countries, IE in Madrid has to be on top of your list. IESE and ESADE, these also have to be at the top of the list.”
Participating Admissions Consultants:
- Stacy Blackman, Stacy Blackman Consulting
- Dollaya Chaibongsai, The MBA Exchange
- Duncan Chapple, Human Equity