Q: I am thinking of Columbia, Wharton, and Kellogg. I am currently managing a trading desk at a top investment bank, but wanted to broaden my resume to eventually transition to upper management or to be more relevant to other industries as a Senior Manager. I have some issues with a 2.65 GPA, but my GMAT was a 730 (could have done higher, but don’t have time to re-take it) and I am a CFA charterholder. My work experience is strong and recommendations will be healthy, but [my] undergrad grades and a lack of charitable contribution seem like the negatives. I am also 28 years old, so although my responsibilities trump my age I am worried about the years of experience. What school do you think out of the choices makes the most sense, and will be respected?
A: The value employers place on EMBAs varies a lot by industry, and finance is certainly an industry that values the MBA. The EMBA may have lesser value in employers’ eyes, but an EMBA from an elite program like CBS, Wharton, or Kellogg will be highly valued, whether executive or full-time. Of these three schools, I see Kellogg as a challenge for you, because they definitely skew older (average age 38) and you’re not even in their middle 80% range in age. However, you are just inside the lower edge of Columbia and Wharton’s middle 80% in terms of age, so you qualify. Your GMAT offsets your GPA to a large extent, especially if the GPA is attributable to working full-time or other similar explanations. Because you are on the younger side you will need to emphasize that your managerial experience and career pace are significantly ahead of the typical pace. Having some leadership outside of work in an extracurricular would be another way to drive home this message. Top EMBA programs are not nearly as selective as full-time programs, but you might improve your odds by waiting a year and beefing up your extracurricular leadership.
Can an Executive MBA Help Me Break Into Wall Street?
Q: I am a CEO of my own company, a multimillion dollar manufacturing company I started 8 years ago. I have a bachelor of commerce…and have been in management a total of 14 years. I am considering getting an EMBA and then sell my business and pursue a lifelong dream: A Wall Street career. Which of these programs – NYU Stern, Columbia, Trium – should i go into with this in mind? Ideally I will get a chance to meet Wall Street professionals and network to get into a good firm after [I graduate].
A: I think NYU or Columbia would be best. That is a fairly big transition to make from manufacturing to Wall Street. I would sit down with the admissions people at both NYU and Columbia to discuss your career goals at length. Get a feel for how they assess your odds of making the switch. The alumni network is going to be crucial to your ability to pursue your dream. That’s why I would not recommend Trium. It’s too new a program. Both Columbia and NYU have excellent alumni contacts on Wall Street…Breaking into Wall Street at your career stage will be difficult, and Executive MBAs are not the ideal vehicle for making career changes (no internship, for example). I recommend doing some due diligence with people working for the Wall Street firms you’re interested in — get their feedback on your plans. For the purposes of your EMBA application you may want to state more ‘conventional’ post-MBA goals.
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