Forbes best and brightest
message received May 8th
“Hi Nick! I wanted to wrote you to thank you for making me believe I could get into a good MBA program. I also wanted to proudly inform you that I have been elected into the best and brightest MBAs by Poets and Quants, and that I have been mentioned in Forbes!! It all started with you so many thanks!!”
Adrian, HEC Paris scholarship recipient
Before: successful career at Swiss energy company, FH graduate that had already been rejected from an economics master’s in Holland.
After: Accepted to HEC Paris with EUR30,000 scholarship. Turned down McGill in Canada who also offered CAD30,000.
GMAT: 700, with 98th percentile on verbal. Took advanced weekend seminar, then came for some private sessions to polish his approach.
Advice: Get to the test centre early. I was there 45 mins early and I was allowed to start before the official time. It was very quiet and perfect for concentrating. I also listened to Yale MBA lectures as podcasts. This gave my verbal skills some added familiarity and flexibility, and brought me up to date on many MBA-relevant topics.
Maria, ESADE scholarship recipient
Before: Zurich-based Private banker latam. markets. FH grad, no international working experience.
After: Accepted to all schools applied to. Scholarships offered at Bocconi and ESADE, attending ESADE with 25k scholarship. She is part Spanish and this was her dream school.
GMAT: 610 on first attempt, no additional tests taken. Did 10-hour GMAT express package and used included material for efficient self study.
Advice: GMAT is challenging, and I had to brush up on my math basics. GMAT is about being accurate at the medium level and that was my goal- I didn’t pay too much attention to upper level problems. When I got my score I was a bit disappointed, but Nick advised me to focus on my applications and make the essays really powerful. We also did a video essay and I think this was a factor in why I got the scholarship. I could discuss some charity work I did in South Africa that I hadn’t mentioned in my other essays. So definitely do the video essay if you get the chance.
Marta, Bocconi MBA scholarship recipient
Before: Canadian/ Spanish citizen working in Zurich for a major bank in marketing, under challenged at work, wanted a more creative assignment and thought about a masters or MBA.
After: Accepted at ESADE and Bocconi, attended Bocconi with EUR25k scholarship in MBA program focussed on luxury goods.
GRE: She had already taken the GRE in Canada (many years ago) and was familiar with this test structure. We did the 10-hour GRE 1:1 GRE package and she scored in the high 150s. We then focused on creating winning essays and applying for scholarships.
Advice: For me GRE was much more efficient because I already knew the test. I think I could have done better but my result was above average, so I focused on my essays and the message of what I wanted to achieve post-MBA. This was more important than trying to raise the GRE a few points. I also was able to negotiate with the school. Since I had already been accepted to ESADE I could use this fact to bargain a bit and secure the scholarship.
David, London Business School MiM
Before: St Gallen BBA graduate with sub-600 GMAT.
After: Accepted to LBS after initial rejection.
GMAT: 620. He had done much better in practice tests but did not execute as well as he hoped on actual exam.
Advice: LBS was my dream school and it didn’t look like I was going to get in. What surprised me is that I was able to communicate with adcom people and tell them my story. I had to explain my GMAT situation, and write an essay as well. Nick knew the people and was really supportive negotiating on my behalf. In the end I got in and it was one of the happiest days of my life.
Georges, London Business School MBA
Before: ex military, ex aid organisation with innovative water purifying solution invented. ETH graduate with only 1.5 years working experience.
After: LBS MBA candidate, accepted from waiting list.
GMAT: 720. ETH engineer with extensive time abroad, so good MBA profile.
Advice: I had a good GMAT but I knew that my working experience would not be as strong as other candidates. I was actually happy to even get on the wait list, but this presented huge problems with my job and planning my future. Nick knows an LBS alum who was a former student of his. He is presently an active alumnus and does interviews in Zurich for LBS. He invited me to his office and we met. After he told Adcom at LBS that he liked me and was disappointed i hadn’t been accepted. A few days later I received an acceptance letter. I am certain that this personal connection was a huge factor!
Markus, Harvard Kennedy School, Master’s in policy and government.
Before: I am a journalist by profession. I had applied to Harvard the year before, and I was rejected. I read that a rejection is very hard to overcome. But this was my dream program and wanted to give it one more try. I didn’t expect to get in, but at least I would be able to live with the decision easier if I gave it my best effort.
After: Accepted!! To Harvard! Against all odds! I was overjoyed.
GRE: I had already taken the GRE. I was applying to other master’s programs and GRE was more familiar to me. I was over the 75th percentile and decided that it would be enough.
Advice: I was rejected because my essays were weak. I was far too modest. I did not showcase my talents or accomplishments. I am Swiss and I don’t feel comfortable bragging. Nick showed me how to change the tone and how to show my skills in a natural way. We totally re-did the essays and I stated my objectives must more explicitly. IT WORKED!!!
Otto, London Business School Full Time MBA
Before: German FH graduate, working in Zurich for big 4.
After: London Business School- with a 640 GMAT.
GMAT: I was under heavy pressure at work. I was working on a giant merger. I mapped out the inter-dependencies on Excel and it was longer than Santa’s list! I had no time and I was under pressure. I only got a 640, lower than I hoped. Nick told me not to worry and to focus on the essays and interview.
Advice: 1) Start early enough with GMAT. Actually, do it while you are still at university. It is good for 5 years and you won’t have to suffer like I did. If the score is lower than you hope, apply anyway. I had really polished essays that Nick helped me structure. 2) Ace the interview. I am sure that I was accepted based on the interview. Nick and I trained very efficiently. I knew the structure and the key questions. It went really well and I was accepted a week later.
Reggie, Georgetown Full-time MBA (+ Steers Center for Global Real-estate)
Before: Client advisor for UBS UK desk.
After: accepted at Georgetown with 620 GMAT.
Advice: I am the first to admit that my GMAT was way too low. But I handled English clients and during Brexit work was insane, then again after the US election. Nick helped convince me to go through with my application. My dream is to work in real-estate and even though I am a career changer by definition, I had some real estate experience. This was the focus of my essays, and I was accepted straight away with no waiting list or any talk of GMAT. Now my wife and I are living in Georgetown, she loves it and I have the professional future I have been dreaming of!
Jordan, London Business School Executive MBA.
Before: shipping broker for family business in Germany.
After: accepted to LBS (without a first university degree). Used Executive Assessment exam to get in.
Advice: My dream was to study in London, and I assumed that this would not be possible. My education consisted of a shipping apprenticeship in Hamburg, and a certificate from England. I thought I would have to go back to university and earn a bachelor’s. Thank heavens I got a second opinion from Nick. He thought we could argue that my degree was the equivalent a bachelor’s. He knows the admissions people and could discuss the issue with them directly. To my amazement, they agreed with us and I was accepted! My advice is to definitely try and negotiate with admissions. They were super understanding and helpful to me!
Isabel, ESADE MiM (Master’s of Management)
Before: Recent grad of UZH in communications
After: Living in Barcelona with job offers in Spain and Zurich
Advice: My brother was studying at ESADE- I went to visit him and fell in love with the school and the city. But GMAT was a huge challenge for me. I studied communications and am not confident in math. At first I scored a 530 and wanted to give up. Nick would not let me. He introduced me to the admissions officer at ESADE who was incredibly supportive. The ESADE rep explained that he wanted to accept me, but would need a bit higher GMAT. That gave me the strength to try again, and with the great support I had I broke 600 and am now living my dream! Don’t give up on GMAT. If I could do it, so could anybody with the right mindset.
UPDATE: I graduated from ESADE and returned to Zurich to work in my dream job at Apple! Without ESADE it never would have happened!
Cristal, St Gallen full time MBA
Before: Swiss FH grad, Lived 5 years in Asia as sales rep for international company
After: Attending full-time MBA
Advice: When I got back from Asia I had to re-invent myself. I knew that I wanted to do an MBA for sure. I decided on St Gallen because I had been abroad so long that my network in my own country wasn’t as strong. I studied for GMAT, but in the end I did the St Gallen internal test. This is an option if you know St Gallen is your first choice. However, I am really happy that I did the GMAT prep course because now in econ and finance classes I am able to keep up with the math part no problem– and this was a concern for me before the MBA.
Ron, Harvard MBA
Before: German St Gallen grad, working for major consultancy in Zurich
After: Harvard full-time MBA
Advice: As a German consultant working in Zurich, I had to work very hard to distinguish myself from my peers. Most of fellow analysts apply for top MBAs, so just my consulting class was over-represented at the top schools. I took GMAT very seriously and ended up with a 740. For the essays, I made sure to create a powerful post-MBA story that could get the attention of the adcom– and at the same time differentiate myself from the many other applicants with similar profiles to me.
Raymon, IMD MBA
Before: Journalist in Zurich working for highly regarded periodical
After: IMD MBA then McKinsey Zurich
Advice: When I met Nick he told me I had a scary profile- German speaking journalist hoping for career change. I now understand that this is not a great way to get into a top MBA. Even though my math was really rusty, I took the weekend GMAT course and got 680 on my first try. I applied to several schools, and got into all of them! Nick helped me turn my “unconventional” profile into a stand-out application. Interestingly, as a journalist I wasn’t able to communicate my own story as well as I should have. My advice is get help to formulate the essays. This had a huge positive effect on my application and now my career.
Kieran, INSEAD EMBA
I joked with Nick that I am probably his oldest success case! I am 52 and for a variety of personal and professional reasons decided to do the premier EMBA at INSEAD- except I had to get accepted first. This meant doing well on the Executive Assessment (EA), and I hadn’t done a standard test that I can even remember!
I chose the 1:1 package and together we broke down the success criteria of the EA into digestible modules. For me it meant bringing my math skills up to standard, and it ended up being a fun and rewarding experience. Now I am enrolled in the course and it has been an amazing life changer. I can also say that the test-taking strategies that he and I explored have been helpful and relevant even in the MBA. I can honestly say that the test and admission help I received enabled my incredible MBA journey- and for those of you who think you are too old- don’t make excuses! it’s not true!!
Hendrick, Master Business Analytics ESADE
Before: ZHAW grad working at Julius Baer in Zurich
After: Living in Barcelona studying Master’s of Business Analytics
Advice: Working at Julius Baer, I saw how IT was taking over so many aspects of banking, and it’s only going to accelerate in the Future. To me it was clear that I wanted to learn how to manage data and use it in decision making. ESADE is the leading program, and my dream was to get accepted. Nick took me through the process of GMAT and then the application. I got a 650 on my first try, and that was enough. I applied and was accepted, and everything happened pretty fast! Now I am looking at so many unbelievable opportunities with the knowledge I am learning. THANK YOU.
My advice is that the business world is changing fast- be a leader of that change and don’t wait– you might get left behind!
UPDATE: I graduated from ESADE and returned to Zurich to work in my dream job at Apple!
Stacey, MBA ESADE
Before: HWZ grad, working in communications at Siemens
After: ESADE MBA.Travels Europe working for Facebook
Advice: My dream was always to do the MBA at ESADE. I have to admit that the GMAT was hard for me. I was never good at those type of standard tests, and I really wanted to give up. Luckily, Nick believed in my MBA story and would not let me quit. He devised a strategy for me to get the GMAT score I needed by using my strengths. He also communicated with the school and absolutely made sure that I got my chance. It totally changed my life. After an amazing MBA experience I landed my total dream job at Facebook. If I can succeed at GMAT, anyone can! But get good help- it is the best investment I ever made.
Marina, Stanford MBA
Before: Worked for a Zurich law firm, but longed for an international career in a positive working environment
After: Accepted to Stanford! Currently enrolled!!
GMAT: 700. I had trained pretty hard for GMAT but I was stuck in the mid 600s. I went to GMATZurich to break through. Nick knew exactly how to go to the next level, and I got pacing strategies and some upper level tips that made the difference. He also gave my application a remake.
Advice: Looking back I realise that I went about the GMAT and application process the wrong way. I should have got help for GMAT much earlier, and my application that I tried to do on my own did not highlight the real me. My advice is definitely to get support sooner in the process- it’s worth it!
Dr. Mo, MBA-Imperial College London
Before: Medical doctor and researcher at prestigious Swiss hospital.
After: Imperial MBA med-tech, VC, entrepreneurialism focus- currently enrolled.
GMAT: I am the first to admit that I underestimated GMAT. It is a challenging exam. I have advanced science degrees and expected it to be a formality. The first time I took it without much preparation and I messed up the timing. Luckily I reached out for help and I am happy that I did.
Advice: Very simple, take GMAT seriously and get help to prepare. I put myself under time and deadline pressure. I also discovered Imperial through my GMAT prep. Nick knew all about the various MBA programs, and inquired if I was going to apply given Imperial’s strength in science and medical technology. I looked into it and there really was a fit, and now I on an amazing journey that I didn’t think would be possible.
Reto, HEC Master’s of Finance
Before: Big pharma intern in Basel
After: Accepted to HEC Paris and LBS. Chose HEC because offered 8k EUR scholarship
GMAT: 700! I studied hard, and it was so worth it. It was a main reason I got a scholarship.
Advice: Prioritise GMAT if you are going into Finance. In the long run it will make your life easier, and if you lucky you win a scholarship. That surprised me. Also, train for the interview. My prep with Nick saved my. It was a very tricky interview and he had advised me on what to look out for.