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Thread: Profile Evaluation- PhD in Strategy (Fall 2022)

  1. #1
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    Question Profile Evaluation- PhD in Strategy (Fall 2022)

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    Test Scores (GMAT/GRE): GRE VA: 165 (98 percentile), QA: 168 (97 percentile)

    Undegrad GPA: 8.5/10 (Top 20% of class- Top 10 Indian Engineering College)

    Graduate GPA: 7.1/10 (Top 20% of class- Top 5 Indian B School)

    Research Experience: No publishing experience as such. During my professional career I have undertaken some secondary research for my consulting projects and primary research in the form of interviews and surveys, especially with think tanks like the World Resources Institute and the United Nations Environment Programme. Some of my MBA courses and business case competitions also required some basic secondary research.

    Teaching Experience: None

    Work Experience: I have a work experience of two and a half years in a Tier 2 strategy consulting organisation with their Sustainability Services practice. I have primarily worked with non profit organisations and multilateral organisations likeWWF,
    The Nature Conservancy, Red Cross Society, UN agencies. I have supported various strategic projects with them. For example, I have worked with the UN Environment Programme to develop science based targets for businesses to reduce their impact on oceans and this involved a pair bit of literature based research. The current project I am working on is one of the worldís largest assessments of impact of 250+ consumer goods organisations on palm oil sustainability. This also involves literature review and surveying companies.

    Concentration Applying to: Strategy

    Number of programs planned to apply to: 6-8

    Dream Schools: Yale, Michigan Ross, Duke Fuqua, USC Marshall, University of Washington Foster, University of Minnesota Carlson School

    Letters of recommendation: I will be asking for LORs from my MBA professors. Itís going to be of moderate strength since I donít have any research experience to speak of but will only be asking those professors in whose courses I have ranked among the top 5 scorers.

    Note: I have also attached my resume for more information.

    Other Questions:

    What made you want to pursue a PhD?

    I have working on the topic of how businesses can operate responsibly and contribute positively to nature for the entirety of my professional career. Prior to that I have won several business case competitions on similar themes like sustainable agriculture. I believe there is scope for a great deal of innovation in this topic especially looking at how different stakeholders in the ecosystem can collaborate to drive change. Through my experience I realise that businesses who are now working on net positive value creation in the environment will have a first movers advantage when the regulations change. They will also have an effect on policy drivers. However in order to get there, businesses need guidance on how they can function responsibly while maintaining profitability. This is where academia will play a role going into the future because the ground is still nascent and it requires backing up with strong research. This is the journey I want to be a part of which is why the first step would be to apply for a strong PhD program in strategy, business environment and business economics.

    Questions or concerns you have about your profile?

    1. Given my overall MBA GPA isnít extraordinary (may come to a 3.5 I guess, using the Columbia school chart of conversion) and I have no big research experience to speak of, do I have a shot at any of my dream schools or at least a top 30 college in the US?
    2. Does this forum have any suggestions on which schools I should be applying to?
    3. How does the GPA conversion work (from a 10 point scale to a 4 point scale)?
    4. What points should I stress upon in my SOP to give my application a push given my lack of research experience?

    Any additional specific questions you may have:

    1. Is there a possibility of getting part time remote research projects under professors in the US? Given the COVID situation in India, itís not possible to do that here right now.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
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    Re: Profile Evaluation- PhD in Strategy (Fall 2022)

    Q1 and Q2

    It's hard to say. Top 30 are usually considered very, very competitive, a crapshoot even for applicants with near perfect profiles.

    I don't know why you are aiming at top 30 and why you intend to apply to only 6-8 schools. But, if you do that, you should be aware that chances are low. You may get lucky, but it doesn't sound good.

    Rank matters a little of course, but usually are not a very good factor to choose programs. For example, some top researchers actually prefer to work for lower-ranked schools where they can have more freedom, power, and influence.

    6-8 was a low number of applications even when the situation was much better. When I applied, I think the average number of application was around 15. The situation now is at least much more uncertain.

    Your research interests are not clear to me, and research fit is often very important. Your resume makes it even less clear. I see a lot of marketing in your resume, for example, so its harder to understand what type of research you want to do in Strategy.

    If research fit is very good for those programs you listed (I have no idea, not my field), then it would be a little better.


    GPA conversion is a complicated matter. When I applied, I found the following situations, depending on the school:
    - the school stated the rules to convert GPA
    - the school didn't tell anything about rules to convert GPA
    - the school asked to not convert GPA, to provide GPA using the original scale
    - the school asked for additional documentation from the schools where you studied, explaining their grading systems.


    With a lack of research experience, I think you need to:
    - find a way to convince schools that you know what academic research is
    - find a way to convince schools that you know what you are getting into
    - find a way to show what type of research you want to do, and that you at least have potential to do that type of research.

    For example, you mentioned "research for consulting projects." This can be a double-edged sword, you need to be careful about how you sell this type of thing to schools.

    On the one hand, it's good to see you were able to get some experience, you worked with interviews and surveys, etc.

    On the other hand, it may sound like you think that research for consulting projects is similar to academic research. And a lot of professors would not like that. Some professors have very low opinions about the quality of research conducted by consulting firms, from an academic perspective.

    So, that experience must be presented in a way that would help you, not undermine your application. For example, if you talk about strong methods used in academia that could overcome the flaws you noticed in the research of those consulting projects.

    Your motivation is good, but it may raise questions from an academic perspective. You need to be ready for that. Sure, I can believe that "it requires backing up with strong research." But, if you are so motivated to do that, you probably should show that with actions and results. And, so far, it seems you didn't care about academic research. Looking at your resume, you show a lot of experiences and achievements, for example, but it's hard to find one that is related to that motivation of wishing to "backing up with strong research," specially in strategy. Great resume for positions outside academia, not so much for a PhD position in strategy. You need to cross that bridge somehow because I don't see much of a connection.

    Additional Q1

    It's probably very hard to get an opportunity like that. Maybe if you have strong connections with professors in the US, but it doesn't seem to be the case. You probably would need to do a MSc or something like that in the US, at least that's what I usually see.

  3. #3
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    Re: Profile Evaluation- PhD in Strategy (Fall 2022)

    So, I'm from India as well, and here's my subjective advice - In terms of GPA you're good. What's more important is letter of recommendation - try speaking to professors in the strategy department of your school or any top business school in India so that you can work as a part-time RA. If that doesn't work, try contacting professors/PhD students in US. Even working on research with a PhD student will boost up your application, because you'll have something to talk about in interviews.

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