“Every MBA applicant I meet has something special to offer, and I love finding out what that is,” says Fortuna’s Rachel Erickson Hee, who was a Stanford GSB alumni interviewer for nearly two decades. “The more I probe, the more I find out reasons why that applicant would be a great addition to a business school class. It gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure to hear the candidates’ experiences and help shape them into a story that reflects them at their best.”
I turned the tables on Rachel as part of Fortuna’s Meet the MBA Experts series, where she spoke to her passion for helping candidates discover and articulate their uniqueness, what schools are seeking when they talk about leadership, and one thing she uses every day from her Stanford GSB experience.
Like Zach White (featured in my previous post), Rachel joined the Fortuna Admissions team this year. She brings considerable editing experience to her coaching role, having worked at Putnam Berkley, Barnesandnoble.com, and the digital group at Reader’s Digest. Rachel also worked at BCG and the VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners, as well as in business development for an Internet start-up and a brand licensing firm. She’s a graduate of Yale University (Economics and Political Science) and was an Arjay Miller Scholar at Stanford GSB. Beyond these impressive credentials, Rachel also enjoys ballroom dance and has participated in several competitions. “Yes, the costumes and makeup really are that outrageous,” she admits.
View my 7-minute interview with Rachel, or read Q&A highlights, below.
What’s your top piece of advice for admissions candidates?
It relates to what business schools are looking for and what they mean when they say “leadership” and “positive impact.” The advice I always give is that they’re not talking about what your team did, what your group did, or what your job responsibilities are. They want to see what is special about you and how you made an impact that is different than what anybody else would have done.
The other advice I find myself sharing often, is to remember that the person reading your application or interviewing you doesn’t necessarily know your job and may not have any context with which to judge your performance. You need to make it clear why you have been outstanding at your job, and if you did something that was really hard, make sure they know it.
What’s your coaching superpower?
My superpower is identifying what is unique and compelling about a candidate and what will stand out to an MBA Admissions committee – whether the candidate has a typical profile or comes from a non-traditional industry. I know how to ask the right questions to inspire a candidate to reveal the stories that speak to who they are and why they’re impressive, not just what they did. My background in publishing also gives me extra communications muscle to make an application clearer, punchier and more effective.
As a Stanford GSB grad, what’s something you took from business school that has really impacted your life?
Business school is particularly productive in teaching you how to think in ways that are desperately needed in the world today, because it’s always about making choices, making decisions, evaluating imperfect information, and looking at data to understand it. And all of these things are so closely tied to the skills that you need, not just to succeed in business, but really in anything, even just in daily life. Having that knowledge and that context is something I constantly go back to.
Fortuna’s Meet the MBA Experts video series shines a spotlight on the perspectives, personalities, and unique expertise Fortuna Admissions coaches bring to their work with business school applicants. View more expert coach interviews, along with strategy sessions on an array of relevant topics, on Fortuna’s YouTube channel.
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