The first disappointment

Ah! I am just a basket of emotions right now. Harvard, my initial dream school before I did more in-depth research, has sent out the first wave of interview invites. After refreshing my email obsessively for about an hour, I came to grips with the fact that Harvard may not like me the way I liked it.

It is just the first wave so why am I disappointed? Well, Dee Leopold said that “many” invites would be sent out in the first wave and “some” would be sent out in the second wave. Some geeks on the Gmat Club have calculated the chances of getting an invite in the second wave and it came down to 2.3%. From a high of 17% for the first wave. That means there is 97.7% chance of getting a ding. Can I hold out hope for an invite? Well, theoretically I can, but mathematically I can’t. But my life has been a miracle up to this point. So here’s what I will do. I will hope and pray for the best.

Meanwhile I have been able to lock down my interviewers for INSEAD. I don’t have  the luxury of remaining crestfallen. I just have to pull myself together and get ready for my first interview in two days.

It hurts but life goes on.


Dealing with an unexpected promotion


Everybody wants to get a promotion. I am not excluded. On the first working day of 2014, I got an unexpected promotion. My first reaction was confusion. I had worked to hard on those applications and I was at the end stages of submitting applications that I had worked on for many many hours. How should I work in this promotion when I would have achieved exactly nothing before the deadlines? To even make matters worse, I had already submitted my Harvard applications, and Harvard expressly forbids sending extra materials once you have clicked on that submit button.

It was a big promotion although it came without the extra pay. But it is a sure boost to my profile because of the added responsibilities. This unexpected promotion dragged my application on for a few days as a I settled into my new position and reworked my application to reflect this new role. But my dream school does not know that I have been promoted, and, well, that sucks. Thinking really hard about it now, I doubt that this promotion would have made a lot of difference though. I have received series of promotions and I doubt that receiving five promotions in five years would really be much more impressive than receiving four promotions in five years. So, it all boils down to whether Harvard likes my story or not. I am glad that I have been able to add it to my Wharton and Stanford applications.

INSEAD called me for interview, so I guess bringing up this new promotion at the interviews will definitely give us something to say. 

Another source of confusion about the promotion was that this has actually taken me to a whole new level in my finance career. I almost had doubts with business school applications. But then…

…the show must go on.

Reviewing the applications

I woke up this morning drenched in sweat in the cold harmattan weather sweeping the West African region. The reality of my situation probably sunk into my subconscious mind overnight. I felt on top of the world before going to bed but ended up waking with a headache and feeling at the bottom of the world. Yes, I have received the interview invite from INSEAD, but the journey has just begun. Now I am going to be measured against the best from across the globe. I think I will make a good fit for INSEAD, but so will thousands of others, thousands of others who could be better fits.

The euphoria is over. Reality has sunk in. This is when I need to be true to myself. The hardest part is the wait before the final decision. I need to keep that a the back of my head and roll up my sleeves.

My new reality dragged me into an introspective good today. I decided to review my journey so far and the to look for a way to marshal my plan towards the interview. First I need to understand how I got to where I am.

I hired consultant who helped me through the applications for Harvard, INSEAD, and Stanford. I poured my heart into the applications. I bared my soul and faced my fears. The applications depicted the real me. Wharton was a difference case altogether. I have a limited war chest for the applications, so I had to lean on a colleague who I met at my former employer and who also happens to be a second year candidate at Wharton. Who else could be in a better position to guide me through the application process if not someone who hago been through the process before? There was a stark difference between the consultant and for friend. While I saw the real me shine througI with the consultant, I felt canned in the Wharton applications. I hardly recognized myself after submitting the Wharton application. Yeah, the application looked really good, and well executed but it wasn’t me. The question now is whether that would work.

So far I have been been invited by INSEAD. I hope I get invites from Harvard and Stanford. Let’s see if Wharton would work. I hope I will be able to use my experience to advise others in the future.

Does the canned method of application works? Time will tell.

Rolling with the roller coaster


There is only one word to describe the last 36 hours: crazy. It has probably been the craziest 36 hours of my life, excluding some operating room or emergency room drama I had when I lived by the Hippocratic Oath.

I finally got the INSEAD interview invite today. It came at a very unexpected time. I was driving home from work when I heard a ping on my phone. I had set my phone to make one funny sound any time I received a very important e-mail. Since I am in the same time zone with France and it was already 6.30 pm, the last thing I had on my mind was an interview invite from INSEAD. I thought it was an email from my new boss (I just got a bog promotion two days ago – that is another story for another day). I almost lost control of the car when I saw my coordinator’s name and the topic “INSEAD Round 2 Interview selection”.

I did not see that coming. It was a real rush of emotions after all I had passed through with the mix-up about coordinators, the late night I had to pull to get my Wharton application in with a half fried brain, and the hourly refreshing of both inbox and spam folders in the office today. It took me a few minutes to calm myself down. I had to remind myself that this was just the first step in the hurdle. I still have to do the interview. The battle is won but the war is not over.

I am glad that INSEAD has shown interest in me. Indeed I am.

At this time, I wish everyone who is waiting for the news all the best.

Catching the application fever


Yeah, that’s right. The application fever does not start when you are preparing for the GMAT. It starts when you start submitting and waiting for interview invites to hit your inbox. It has been a pretty dramatic 24 hours for me. The drama started on GMAT Club when interview invites started rolling in from INSEAD, and everyone started talking about coordinators.

Whoa! What coordinator? INSEAD did not send me that memo!

I went into a panic mode and sent a very polite email to, using British spelling all the way. Yeah, INSEAD likes international applicants, and you need to show your ability to operate at the international level by switching into different international modes at the snap of a finger. There is a reason the school dedicated a whole question to discuss international motivation. Early this morning, I finally got a very polite email from someone whom I assume to be my coordinator.

Case closed. Not yet. Where is my interview invite?

Submitting Harvard Application



With heart pounding, palms sweating, and forehead beading with sweat, I typed in the debit card number (yes, only the ultra rich use credit cards in Africa, not common people like me). I made a mistake, and retyped it with shaking hands. This is Harvard Business School we are talking about here. I typed my name, typed the expiration date on the card, the secret code at the back of the card, filled in the other information and SUBMITTED.

I stared at the screen for about half a minute as my heart beat slowed and my sweaty palms and forehead recovered slightly from the shock of submitting an application to Harvard Business School. I have done my best. I put my best foot forward. It is time to see if Harvard likes me enough to call me for the interview. I don’t have time to brood at the moment. A heavy weight that has been lifted off my shoulders. Truly, I have done my best.

It is time to move on to other schools. Something strange happened while I was preparing the applications. The schools seem to be re-arranging themselves. Initially, I was not interested in Stanford. I was enamored by HBS and INSEAD. Well, am I glad that I am applying to Stanford. Anyway, this is all about Harvard for now, so I will not derail the topic.

Well, I chose to use the image up there because it converges my dream school with the most successful manager of my favorite football team, Manchester United. I have completed the first major task of 2014. Time to go and eat that sumptuous New Year breakfast that my wife cooked, sleep, and then watch Manchester United take on Tottenham Hotspur later in the day. It is going to be a touch match. Tottenham has historically given us loads of headache, and I suspect it is going to be a cracking match after Andrea Villas Boas was sacked, and the new coach has developed some serious attacking instincts.