Mid-Office Finance Candidate Admitted to Top Choice London Business School

Coming from a middle-office role in a local commercial bank, Shu Wing knew he was going up against some very stiff competition. He wanted to propel his career to a front-office role in investment banking, targeting an LBS MBA, and without a top employer or top school on his resume, he had to find a way to stand out against a very competitive pool of bankers from buy-side or front-office roles in large investment banks like Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. It was going to be an enormous challenge, but he knew that if he remained at his middle-office role and local employer, his career options were certain to be limited. 

Applicant Stats

LBS

  • Undergraduate Institution
    University of Auckland
  • Pre-MBA Industry: 
    Commercial Banking 
  • Career Goals: 
    Investment Banking
  • Admitted At:
    LBS, Yale
  • Coach:
    Yaron

Shu Wing’s Challenges

#1: Making His Story Unique, Professionally and Personally

The real challenge here was: how to build a profile that would be competitive in a very tough and large demographic, aiming for the top finance school in Europe—and one of the best in the world. This was doubly tough because Shu Wing was coming from a market risk office in a not-well-known commercial and retail bank: both his role and employer would start Shu Wing off with a far weaker profile foundation than many of his competitors. 

By focusing instead on Shu Wing’s strengths, we sidelined the temptation to compare him, and ensured that we highlighted that which would present Shu Wing in the best light.

There were really two strategies we implemented here to address these issues: 

The first was to focus on the impact of Shu Wing’s work, but not by highlighting stories of technical or financial prowess. Instead, we emphasized his leadership, his devotion, his quick-thinking, and his international experience. There was no point in trying to just focus on the technical financial background or achievements, because we felt that was a game Shu Wing would be certain to lose against candidates from more prestigious backgrounds or with deal experience. By focusing instead on Shu Wing’s strengths, we sidelined the temptation to compare him, and ensured that we highlighted that which would present Shu Wing in the best light.

The second was to give a heavy emphasis on Shu Wing’s personal background—one replete with hardship and struggle—and one that was complimentary to his professional strengths: loyalty, devotion, and hard work. These traits were the foundation of his success until that point, and the promise of his future success. And successful he was! Not only did Shu Wing get invited to his number one choice LBS, he was accepted at 6 out of the 8 schools he applied to.

#2: Emphasizing the Timing of “Why Now” for an Older Candidate

One of the profile concerns Shu Wing had was that he knew he was applying as a much older candidate, and that this would make his profile less attractive, especially in conjunction with his employment and school weaknesses. 

Here, we knew we had to nip this problem in the bud. And not by making excuses. Instead, we proposed to the schools a rationale for his applying at this late stage, all while keeping in mind the skills and experiences that recruiters on-campus would be looking for post-MBA. In the end, we showed the schools that Shu Wing would indeed be a great candidate for banking jobs. 

#3: Networking, Research, and Recommendations

Coming from an employer and role from which almost none of his managers or peers were heading off to MBAs presented a third challenge for Shu Wing, one that was as much personal as strategic.

Thankfully, Shu Wing had the foresight to begin his work with us very early, which gave us ample time to guide him through the networking and research process.

One of Shu Wing’s principal concerns was that there was no one he could consult within his network who had attended any of his target schools—or for that matter, who had received an MBA. There was no one to reach out to for support, information, guidance, or recommendations. Not only would his competitors have stronger professional profiles, but they would have developed stronger professional relationships with current and former MBAs.

Thankfully, Shu Wing had the foresight to begin his work with us very early, which gave us ample time to guide him through the networking and research process. Shu Wing worked immensely hard to cultivate a network through LinkedIn searches, our recommendations, and our network of Menlo Alumni at the MBA programs he was targeting. We guided him through the networking process, talking about timing and approach, vetting his emails, encouraging him to dig deeper and find more contacts, and asking him to reach out for calls or lunches where possible.

We also worked hard to get the buy-in from his managers, who were not used to candidates applying to MBA programs, and worked closely with them to ensure that they delivered the strongest possible letters of recommendation. 

Shu Wing applied himself to the networking like he did all his tasks, and we built a network together that was designed not only to provide support for him when he applied to business school, but to have support and network at his post-MBA target employers. The hard work paid off handsomely—not only is Shu Wing ready for a LBS MBA, with admissions to five other MBA programs under his belt, but he also obtained a pre-MBA internship at a consulting firm, which gave him the invaluable opportunity to explore a new field he was curious about, and he came away from the entire process with even more job options available to him after his LBS MBA.

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