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Thread: Profile Evaluation : Strategy 2018

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Profile Evaluation : Strategy 2018

    Sponsored Ad:
    Test Scores:
    GMAT: 770
    CAT 2013: 99.91 percentile in 175,000 students

    Undegrad GPA:
    • Studied at a top 15 engineering college in India (around 98.2 percentile in the entrance test)
    • B.Tech in Biotechnology (GPA- 6.51/10), 3rd quartile in terms of ranking in class
    • Have taken courses in Advanced calculus, Linear Algebra, Numerical methods, Statistics and probability, and Economics
    • Grades in mathematics related subjects are average to bad, cleared all exams in first attempt though

    Graduate GPA:

    • MBA from a top 5 business school in India, in a major Indian university
    • 65.03 % marks (first division, second quartile in ranking in class)
    • Have taken courses on Strategy, Finance, and Micro and Macro economics
    • Grades in Strategy and Economics subjects are above average.
    • Additionaly, I cleared the CFA level 1 exam and the FRM level 2 exam.

    Research Experience:
    None, other than the masters dissertation.

    Teaching Experience:

    Concentration applying to:
    Strategy, Strategy and Microeconomics, and Strategy and Entrepreneurship

    Work Experience:
    One year as a Management Consultant in a Big4 in India. Have worked two strategy and one operations and tax related project.

    Number of programs planned to apply to: Not more than 4-5 (Most likely Kelogg, Insead, Judge, Columbia, and LBS

    Dream Schools: Kellogg, Insead, Cambridge Judge

    What made you want to pursue a PhD?
    I've always dreamed of working in academia, and am an academically oriented person, even though my grades would suggest otherwise. Having worked in management consulting for a year, I've become familiar with how impactful business strategy decisions can be. I'm fairly certain I don't want to continue in management consulting, and the idea of academic freedom looks extremely appealing. Also, a friend recently got into Oxford on a Rhodes, and have heard great things from him about the PhD program. I really really like microeconomics but I realise that it'll be impossible for me to get into a proper Econ PhD at this point, so strategy is the closest thing to that. Ideally I'd want to work on a topic where sound knowledge of microeconomics is required.

    The problem is that I don't have a great idea about the subject of strategy, or any idea about what my research proposal will be. For this, I'm studying strategy textbooks and also microeconomics text books. I plan to finish this by July end, after which I'll start reading research papers and start working on my research proposal.

    Questions or concerns you have about your profile?

    1. Do my bad grades basically kill my chances of a top notch PhD? Will my GMAT and CAT scores compensate for bad grades?

    2. My dissertation during the masters is fairly weak. Would I need to provide the full length text of my dissertation during the application process? I will of course read up on the content of the dissertation in case I'm questioned on it during the interview.

    3. I'm fairly strong at math, though again the grades may suggest otherwise, any way to highlight this? (My scores in GMAT and CAT for the quantitative section are great)

    4. Are the applicants expected to be experts in their chosen field? For example, would someone applying to Strategy be expected to have a sound knowledge of the new and old theories and topics being currently researched in this field.

    5. I'm a novice. I have no idea how the applications work. Should I approach my professors and see what they say?

  2. #2
    Within my grasp!
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    Re: Profile Evaluation : Strategy 2018

    I can only chip in with regards to the math question. You definitely do not stand a good chance at the programmes listed. A solid GMAT score (like yours) serves to reinforce your mathematical prowess demonstrated during your time as an undergrad or grad student. It can't be used as a substitute.

    I'd suggest you revise your expectations of the programmes you can realistically get into, simply because these top programmes get a lot of applicants, so you can't afford to slip up in any area, given that there are very limited spots available and you don't have anything unique (like extensive RA experience) in your profile that nudges them to pick you, over another candidate with good grades + good GMAT. The best guage of your competitiveness is to speak to your professors. They will be more familiar with the admissions process, although they'll expect you to do your due diligence before approaching them.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation : Strategy 2018

    The GMAT tests more basic math skills than the courses you took at university. If you say you did not do well in your math courses consistently throughout the years, you may struggle in the courses required for a strategy PhD program.

    I agree that you are applying to too few programs, and are too top-heavy in terms of rank. Is there a specific reason you can only apply to a few? Is the research at those universities a good fit for your interests?

    No, applicants aren't expected to be experts in their field. Having foundational knowledge through relevant coursework is expected, and if you've written term papers or a thesis on a related topic, that is especially good experience. I also recommend reading some recent articles by faculty members you'd like to work with at the institutions you apply to. This will help you determine whether you find the work interesting, and gives you something to talk about in an interview to show some understanding of the topics you want to pursue. Basically, you need to have a good reason for wanting a PhD in strategy at University X, so understanding what research in strategy entails and determining some topics you're interested in will be important.

    I don't believe any of my business management applications required a writing sample, although they all had an option to upload additional materials (I submitted my honors thesis from undergrad to all of them). If you believe your thesis demonstrates quality thought and writing, it wouldn't hurt to include it. Get feedback from your professors first to see if it represents the type of work a PhD program is looking for (e.g., does it strengthen your application, weaken it, or neither?).

    Definitely talk with your professors to see where previous students from your university have gone for their PhDs, and what range of schools might be a good fit for your profile. Then find programs with research that aligns with your interests.

    I've been admitted to an OB program, so I have not directly applied to any strategy programs, but my impression has been that these expectations are fairly similar between the specialties in business management.

  4. #4
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: Profile Evaluation : Strategy 2018

    Last edited by freefour; 04-16-2017 at 01:57 PM.

  5. #5
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Profile Evaluation : Strategy 2018

    My big concern for you is that you don't seem to understand business academia, or strategy in particular well at all. You are looking at strategy as a kind of consolation prize instead of econ. Your school selection worries me as well.

    Basically, you seem uninformed about a PhD, so your decision don't make much sense so far.

    The good news is that you seem to recognize the problems that I have pointed out, you are reading books and literature, you have come here to ask for help and will hopefully ask professors as well. We were all uninformed at some point. Just be prepared to have your current expectations shift dramatically.

    Business academia is a good lifestyle, but it is still very busy, stressful, and high-pressure. Is your friend at Oxford in the strategy department? If not, their opinion on the PhD there doesn't mean much. I haven't heard of Rhodes scholars in the business school.

    You say that you like thinking of things in a micro-econ type framework. This is good. I am in accounting and that is the framing we have around most of our questions. Finance can do the same, so can strategy and marketing / logistics. Econ has had influence outside of the business school as well, but I think you want to focus inside the business school and strategy makes sense given your background. The important thing for you is to figure out what kind of questions are answered in Strategy departments and see if those appeal to you. Try to get an understanding of the major branches of research and see what appeals to you. Your school selection will fall out of this process and it should be more like 10-20 schools.

    Your questions:
    1. Bad grades hurt. Good scores help. At top programs your really need both. There are plenty of good programs that can lead to a nice career in academia that could overlook low grades if the rest of your application is great. Admission rates are between about 2-10% throughout business academia, so you can't have too many problems.

    2. Most students in business schools don't come in with real research experience. You will have the option of uploading your dissertation and it is probably fine to do so. It won't get an extremely close look. Demonstrating an understanding of the literature in your statement of purpose will be more important.

    3. I'm sure you are decent at math and your test scores are nice. Unfortunately for you, there are lots of Indians that are great at math with ridiculous test scores (Also Chinese, American, etc.). Test scores will help, but they don't completely make up for poor math grades. You could consider a master's in econ or stats before a PhD.

    4. You are expected to have a certain amount of knowledge coming into the field and have an understanding of what it means to do research in the field. Having a decent MBA and working in consulting should give you a respectable base for strategy. Again, look into strategy research and talk to professors.

    5. Yes. Talk to professors.


    You mention a research proposal. I don't think it is standard to go into strategy PhDs with a research proposal. You should outline what your goals are with a PhD, why strategy, why this school.

    I mentioned a master's in stats or econ. I think these would be useful, but you would definitely want to run it by a few strategy professors first. It is a costly option, but could help with your concerns about quantitative ability and grades and put you in an academic environment with access to professors that could really guide you through the application process and give you a better understanding of research.

    Finally, it is good that you are asking questions about this process. Keep it up and you will be able to have a better understanding of what you want to do and how to get there.

  6. #6
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    Re: Profile Evaluation : Strategy 2018

    1 - Maybe saying bad grades will kill your chances is too extreme. But then, I don't know what you're calling "top notch PhD". You should care more about things like research fit than ranking, for example. Then, you could find an extremely good fit (so, a top notch PhD) in a lower ranked school (usually with lower competition).

    2. Even when there is the option to attach a dissertation, they usually ask for a shorter version if it is too long.

    If it is weak but it is at least related to your reseach interest or concentration, I'd say you should include it. For their standards, almost every master's dissertation they see are weak (if it was so strong, you wouldn't need a PhD). I don't think my dissertation was so weak, but really I can't say it's the greatest either. But I used it to prove my research interests, talk about the research process I used and compare to a professor's research during my interview, for example.

    3. You said you're fairly strong at math. Ok, I can believe that. I also consider myself strong in math. But strong when compared to the average joe. But do I consider myself strong when compared to all those Asian applicants with great grades in math and perfect quantitative scores in Gmat? No way.

    With bad grades, I don't think it will be easy to sell the idea that you are as good as those guys. Maybe if you have some great achievements in Mat, like being a champion in international competitions of mathematics. Then, you can include that in your statement of purpose. But if there is no great achievement like that, explanations may be viewed as excuses.

    4. No, you don't need to be an expert. But of course you should have some understanding. Otherwise, how could you explain you are interested in researching something you know nothing about? If you were really interested, you'd have studied it somehow.

    5. Yeah, talking with professors you trust is a great idea. About how the application works, maybe my blog can help you to start:
    My Guide to Apply to a PhD.

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