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Thread: Profile evaluation: PhD Business, Marketing (CB)

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    Question Profile evaluation: PhD Business, Marketing (CB)

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    I am a working professional in the Indian IT industry. Having completed my education (bachelor's and master's degree) from India, I am planning to pursue PhD in Marketing (Consumer Behaviour track) from the US .

    GRE score :
    326 (Q166, V160) in the first attempt, expecting ~330 (Q168+, V163) in the second attempt

    Undergrad:

    • B.E. (Electronics and communication) from an not so known Indian University
    • Scored 73%, equivalent to a 4.0 GPA as per the GPA calculator


    Masters degree:

    • M.B.A. in Marketing, From Symbisis International University, India
    • CGPA 2.6/4, (seems appalling but Indian GPA systems are a bit different, was still in the top 30% , also the highest GPA ever achieved by anyone in the univ is 3.3)


    Work Experience:
    6+ years in product management, user experience and marketing strategy for mobile apps and SaaS based products. Have worked in small to mid level technology start-ups, where my role has had a direct say in product/market strategy. Was granted ESoPs by one of the start-ups as well.
    Have analysed live user data of over 80 million users over a period of 2 years, hence have a very empirical understanding of different aspects of consumer behaviour, especially in the digital marketing environment.


    Research experience (while pursuing MBA)

    • Market research projects for 2 start-ups
    • Dissertation: Factors influencing churn and user retention for the telecom market in India
    • Industrial research :Social vs operational factors, which ones being the most influential in making users switch to another telecom service
    • Industrial research: Effect of six-sigma process implementation (by telecom companies) in reducing the customer churn

    Reason to pursue PhD: Several realizations while working in the tech sector for over 6 years. One of them being that there are no or very few standard models available for the tech- businesses to assess consumer behaviour. Also given that data analysis has always been my forte, I want to pursue something intensive, and something that can be standardized for a long term use.


    Applying to : 12-14 B-schools(US), spread across evenly but all within the top 30

    Dream schools: Kellogg, Duke Fuqua, Columbia, USC Marshall, UT McCombs


    I have a few questions regarding my profile for which I am seeking inputs:

    1) Would my MBA CGPA negatively affect my chances? Should I mention in my SoP that the university just had a mandate that only 1-2% students could score above 3.0? Or rather than blaming the univ, I should justify it in terms of having a different focus back then (4 years ago), which was to be honest getting as much of industry experience as possible.
    2) My letters of recommendation: The one from my employer might be more stellar than the ones from my professor as my employer would be able to give an account of more recent account of my quantitative skills. Will this even matter to the admissions committee though (as it is a given that they prefer letters from academicians) ?
    3) No published papers at all. Not sure the extent to which this can affect my chances.
    4) No academic research experience, the only experience I have is of industrial research


    Any sort of feedback regarding this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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    Re: Profile evaluation: PhD Business, Marketing (CB)

    You need to first start by doing some research on the field of academic marketing research. Start by looking at the websites of the marketing department at some of the top schools (Stanford, Chicago, Yale, MIT, Columbia, etc). Look at faculty profiles, read their recent research. Many put out full versions of their working papers. You can also check some previous posts in this forum.

    Essentially, research in marketing consists of three (seemingly disparate but not really) areas: quant, CB, and strategy.

    In quant, researchers use mathematical models of various kinds (econometric models often informed by microeconomic theory, statistical and probabilistic models including recently various machine learning methods, analytical models that are often inspired by game theory, etc.). The areas that are of interest to you- customer churn, customer retention, consumer behavior in the digital environment etc are somewhat of quant marketing staples.

    In CB, researchers use experiments (often lab experiments but sometimes field experiments) to test/advance psychological theories pertaining to how consumers behave. One could also think about tightly demonstrating various interesting marketing phenomena through cleverly constructed lab experiments. CB research typically isn't as mathematically intense as quant markteing. The analyses also aren't typically data intensive, although there are more than a handful of examples where they are. Based on your description, I don't think CB research is what you're actually interested in.

    In strategy, well, let's discuss it on another day since this doesn't seem to be of your interest either, from my own assessment.

    Are you planning to apply this year or the next? Can you try to get some research experience before you apply?

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    Re: Profile evaluation: PhD Business, Marketing (CB)

    I intend to apply this year (fall 2019 admissions) itself. Working for 6 years in product management and product marketing has had me analyzing humongous amounts of user data to figure out patterns, on a very regular basis. The quantitative part of marketing isn't where I want to get into. I intend to go got Consumer behaviour, mainly because I intend to study the social/psychological causes that make customers/users behave the way they behave. I am counting mostly on the research and analysis I did during my employment, but sadly, I haven't published anything.
    I know that academic research experience is extremely sought after, but does the academic research done during a professional course such as MBA count? Also, any inputs on how seriously do they take your work experience, if it involves analysis of user data on a regular basis?

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    Re: Profile evaluation: PhD Business, Marketing (CB)

    Quote Originally Posted by ssurange View Post
    I know that academic research experience is extremely sought after, but does the academic research done during a professional course such as MBA count? Also, any inputs on how seriously do they take your work experience, if it involves analysis of user data on a regular basis?
    Research done during an MBA definitely counts. It would obviously be more ideal if you would have continued to work on projects after leaving the MBA, but I completely get that at that point you were likely not interested in pursuing a PhD. Talk about that experience in your SOP.

    How they will view your work experience is a more difficult question. It would be more relevant if you were interested in going the quant route. CB people want to see psychological research in your background. That being said there is a possibility that you can frame your industry experience in such a way that you can speak to CB abilities. The truth is that your experience will be heavily discounted by CB faculty.

    All of that being said, your profile doesn't seem bad, I honestly believe that you can get into a PhD program this year. I'm a bit concerned about you only applying to schools in the top 30. I think that the schools in the top 20 will be a long shot for you. At this point there really isn't a lot that you can do, as some applications are probably already submitted and the rest are due very soon. At this point just apply and see what happens. Good luck!
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    Re: Profile evaluation: PhD Business, Marketing (CB)

    Thanks for your feedback. You are right, at this point I am mostly relating my industrial research experience to my field of interest in my SoPs. and keeping my fingers crossed. Given that, I'd definitely consider expanding the list of colleges I am applying to. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    Research done during an MBA definitely counts. It would obviously be more ideal if you would have continued to work on projects after leaving the MBA, but I completely get that at that point you were likely not interested in pursuing a PhD. Talk about that experience in your SOP.

    How they will view your work experience is a more difficult question. It would be more relevant if you were interested in going the quant route. CB people want to see psychological research in your background. That being said there is a possibility that you can frame your industry experience in such a way that you can speak to CB abilities. The truth is that your experience will be heavily discounted by CB faculty.

    All of that being said, your profile doesn't seem bad, I honestly believe that you can get into a PhD program this year. I'm a bit concerned about you only applying to schools in the top 30. I think that the schools in the top 20 will be a long shot for you. At this point there really isn't a lot that you can do, as some applications are probably already submitted and the rest are due very soon. At this point just apply and see what happens. Good luck!

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