Every MBA candidate has a unique story to tell. Yet the staggering selectivity among top tier programs means the path to success is rarely straightforward. We’ve leveraged our insider experience and expertise on behalf of hundreds of candidates—from software engineers and strategy consultants to military veterans and non-traditional applicants. No team is better equipped to help you reach your goal.
Read the profiles below to see how we’ve helped real people like you achieve a coveted spot in the MBA program of their dreams.
Situation: Emily had graduated from Duke University with a 3.4 GPA and earned herself a 690 GMAT score. A marketing manager with hopes of breaking into the luxury goods industry, she had held several different roles and her resume ran the risk of suggesting lack of direction and commitment.
Strategy: Emily’s Fortuna coach felt she needed to communicate a clear understanding of her chosen school’s culture, particularly how it related to her goals. We coached Emily on how best to present her story, helping her explain her career moves in a simple, streamlined way that aligned with the school’s values.
Result: Admitted to Stern
A marketing manager with hopes of breaking into the luxury goods industry, Emily worked for a financial services firm and also ran a small jewelry making business. She had narrowed down her b-school choices and was focused on getting admission to a program well-known for luxury marketing and strategy.
Emily had graduated from Duke University with a 3.4 GPA and earned herself a 690 GMAT score. Since then, however, she had held several different roles and her resume ran the risk of suggesting lack of direction and commitment.
We coached Emily on how best to present her story, helping her explain her career moves in a simple, streamlined way that aligned with the school’s values. Emily’s Fortuna coach felt she needed to communicate a clear understanding of her chosen school’s culture, particularly how it related to her goals. Highlighting specific areas of the program, Emily showed a dedication to breaking into the luxury goods industry and demonstrated a high level of research and interest in the program’s curriculum and professors.
As Emily was relatively new to the luxury sector, it was important she show that achieving her goals would require a stepping-stone approach. She made it clear that she was open to starting out in a retail role, and drew on her experience as a jewelry maker in support of her career goals.
Admissions committees are always interested in more than just how a student will perform in the classroom. We advised Emily how to step up her networking, encouraging her to make connections with current students that shared her goals and with alumni already working in the industry. This was a clear indication of her passion for the school, and a way to showcase her commitment. We were delighted when Emily received her offer of a place at Stern.
Situation: A driven medical doctor and high achiever, David’s goal was to own and operate his own private clinics and to become more involved in the healthcare technology industry. Although David had excellent undergraduate results, his 660 GMAT placed him well below average for the graduate degree program of his choice.
Strategy: Together, David and his Fortuna coach ensured his essay for his target school set him apart, allowing him to share his passion for the medical world and for helping others.
Result: Admitted to HBS
David was a driven medical doctor and high achiever. He placed in the top 5% at University College London earning a Bachelor Degree of Medicine and Surgery. When not attending patients, David was heavily involved in extreme sports, often raising money for various global charities.
David’s goal was to own and operate his own private clinics and to become more involved in the healthcare technology industry. To make his dream a reality, he needed a strong business education and an MBA. Although David had excellent undergraduate results, his 660 GMAT placed him well below average for the graduate degree program of his choice.
David turned to the Fortuna Admissions team to help him through the application process. We encouraged him to focus on the core values at his chosen school, figuring out how to apply those principles to his application. Passionate about medicine and helping people in need, he had to find a way to shape his story to fit the ideal candidate profile. David had no shortage of interesting and unique stories, but needed help honing the message.
HBS’s essay question allows each MBA candidate the chance to explain why they have chosen the school and then to share more about their goals, career drivers and experiences. The application form served as a testament to his academic achievements, but together, David and his Fortuna coach ensured his essay set him apart, allowing him to share his passion for the medical world and for helping others. David was thrilled to be admitted to HBS.
Situation: An Assistant VP at UBS, Darsana wanted to make the change to a front office finance role. She was concerned that even her 730 GMAT would not be enough to make her stand out in a heavily competitive field.
Strategy: Darsana’s Fortuna coach helped her highlight her successes, presenting her as a fully rounded candidate and highlighting her professional and personal achievements through every stage of the MBA admissions process.
Result: Admitted to LBS
Darsana had spent five years at UBS working her way up to Assistant VP level, but felt it was time to make the change to a front office finance role. She had recently relocated from Singapore to London and earned a 730 on the GMAT, but was concerned that even this would not be enough to make her stand out in a heavily competitive field.
Darsana had her sights set on an MBA program located in a financial hub. Her high GMAT score gave her an edge, but she faced tough competition. Our strategy was to present Darsana as a fully rounded candidate, highlighting her professional and personal achievements through every stage of the MBA admissions process.
We advised Darsana to focus on three things during her application journey: strong recommendations, her proven career success, and her successful track record as a team player. Darsana’s managers strongly supported her decision to work towards her MBA, so they were chosen as her referees. Their vote of confidence spoke to their belief in her skills, and that an MBA would be a beneficial career move for her.
Next, Darsana’s Fortuna coach helped her highlight her successes, including demonstrating how her time in a back-office role would benefit her in front-office going forwards. She also had to prove she could work in a team, and used concrete examples from both her personal and professional background to differentiate herself. Proving that she offered more than just academic prowess to the school community was a critical part of her story. Darsana was delighted to gain a place at London Business School.
Situation: Deloitte consultant Roberto had set his sights on an MBA. Although he had graduated with a 3.7 GPA, his 690 GMAT score was below average for Kellogg, his top-choice school.
Strategy: Fortuna offered Roberto one-on-one advice. After hearing his story, his coach decided the best approach was for him to take advantage of Kellogg’s video essay option to highlight his time at Deloitte and his work with various local charities.
Result: Admitted to Kellogg
After earning a degree in Economics and French from George Washington University, Deloitte consultant Roberto had set his sights on an MBA. Although he had graduated with a 3.7 GPA, his 690 GMAT score was below average for Kellogg, his top-choice school. In a very competitive pool, Roberto faced a tough challenge.
Roberto needed to showcase his educational experiences, career growth and a high-level of program research if he wanted to be considered a high-potential candidate.
The Fortuna team offered Roberto tailored one-on-one support throughout his application process. After hearing his story, his coach decided the best approach was for him to take advantage of Kellogg’s video essay option to highlight his time at Deloitte and his work with various local charities. This showcased his ability to balance multiple passions and proved he would bring that same drive to the school community.
Career-wise, Roberto wanted to move from an operational position to a strategic one. As the consulting applicant pool is saturated with competition, Fortuna advised him to highlight the fact that Deloitte was willing to sponsor him. This spoke to his professional capabilities and ensured the MBA admissions committee was comfortable with his aspirations.
Last but not least, it was important for Roberto to make connections within the school community. Working on advice from his Fortuna coach, he reached out to alumni, contacted professors and thoroughly researched the program. Roberto’s efforts all demonstrated his clear understanding of Kellogg’s core principles and his determination to “fit” the ideal student mold.
Roberto’s offer of a place at Kellogg was fully deserved and the result of his determination and hard work.
Situation: A budding entrepreneur, Francesca graduated with a liberal arts degree, a 3.42 GPA and subsequently scored a 730 on her GMAT. However, with no consulting or financial experience and a low percentile on the quant portion of the GMAT, she felt an MBA could be out of the question.
Strategy: Fortuna helped Francesca map out her MBA applications, preparing her for difficult admissions interviews and helping her demonstrate her numerical aptitude. Leveraging her non-profit charity work demonstrated her ability to take charge, and also highlighted her passion for recycling and giving back.
Result: Admitted to Stanford GSB
Francesca graduated from Wellesley College with a liberal arts degree, a 3.42 GPA and subsequently scored a 730 on her GMAT. She then founded a non-profit focused on recycling electronics that can now be found at more than thirty US East Coast institutions.
After a series of job cuts at her renewable energy company, Francesca realized she wanted to take on more challenging business leadership roles. She hoped an MBA would help her find a position at a tech start-up, but with no consulting or financial experience and a low percentile on the quant portion of the GMAT, she felt an MBA could be out of the question.
Fortuna helped Francesca map out her MBA applications and prepared her for difficult admissions interviews. Firstly, she needed to demonstrate her capability with numbers. This involved a second attempt at the GMAT. We also advised her to take either an online analytics course or a new data project at her company.
Francesca didn’t have enough in her background to make her a standout candidate for either of her top choice schools, so reaching out to her Wellesley alumni network was vital. She needed to network with former students who had attended the b-schools she was interested in and those who had moved onto to the renewable energy and tech industry.
Leadership skills are a big attraction for business school admissions, so Francesca’s coach worked with her to leverage her non-profit charity work. This demonstrated her ability to take charge, and also highlighted her passion for recycling and giving back. Francesca was ultimately admitted to Stanford GSB.
Situation: Samuel was only 15 months into his career as an associate consultant at BCG when he decided to apply for an MBA. He lacked the career growth and international experience that other candidates could bring to the table.
Strategy: Samuel’s coach encouraged him to highlight his maturity through his essays, reflecting on his career successes and demonstrating his confidence. To combat the lack of global business experience he was advised to request an international assignment at work.
Result: Admitted to INSEAD
A rising star at The Boston Consulting Group, Samuel was only 15 months into his career as an associate consultant when he decided to apply for an MBA. With limited experience he was at the younger end of the MBA experience scale, but he felt strongly that his passion for higher education and his driven personality would help him thrive in a graduate program. Samuel’s 3.5 GPA from Princeton University and 720 GMAT were positives, but he lacked the career growth and international experience that other candidates could bring to the table.
Samuel turned to the team at Fortuna for help developing a strategy to tackle the application process. The three biggest hurdles he faced were his age, lack of international experience and fierce competition in his profile bracket.
While Samuel couldn’t deny his age, his coach encouraged him to highlight his maturity through his essays, reflecting on his career successes and demonstrating his confidence. To combat the lack of global business experience he was advised to request an international assignment at work. This was granted, greatly improving his profile.
Finally, to truly set himself apart, Samuel needed to focus on his recommendation letters and interviews. This was his chance to showcase his talents and unique capabilities, both as a student and as a consultant. Working with his coach Samuel was able to brief his recommenders to explain how the school’s program would benefit his career growth, and in turn, how he himself would benefit the school community. Samuel was delighted to receive an offer from INSEAD.
Situation: Sanjay had become disillusioned with his career. Seeking a business management position, he left a high-powered technical role for an entrepreneurial opportunity that ultimately fell through. Sanjay knew he needed an MBA to really progress his business career, but after taking time off work for surgery he was having trouble figuring out his career goals and next steps.
Strategy: Fortuna helped Sanjay finesse his goals and craft his story in a way that would resonate with the admissions committee at his chosen school. His coach encouraged him to highlight his strong professional track record and academics alongside the initiative and drive that had secured his start-up opportunity.
Result: Admitted to Cornell
Sanjay started his professional life as an engineer and had worked his way up to a technical leadership role with one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers. However, increasingly disillusioned with his career track, his dream was to transition into a more strategic business management role. As all of his experience was in the engineering industry, he knew that making this leap would require some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
After taking the initiative to write to the CEO of a company he was interested in working for, Sanjay secured a senior position with a Chilean healthcare start-up, but funding was eventually pulled. Sanjay knew that to achieve the type of career growth, direction and success he wanted, an MBA from a top US b-school was a necessary next step, but after losing his job and taking time out for surgery, he was unsure how competitive his profile would be.
As an older candidate, we encouraged Sanjay to highlight, rather than play down, his depth of expertise and strong career track in engineering. His Fortuna Coach helped him craft a story that showcased the unorthodox approach he had taken to changing industry, focusing on the initiative that he had shown in achieving a general management role in a sector where he had no previous experience. It was also important to emphasize Sanjay’s international profile, which included extensive travel, a stint working in France and seven working languages. Taking time to reflect on his post-MBA career goals, Sanjay realized that the most effective short-term plan was to expand his business experience through a rotational leadership program in the pharmaceutical industry.
By presenting his MBA plans and future goals as a linear and necessary extension of his existing career path, Sanjay was able to convince the admissions committee that an MBA was a natural next step. He was thrilled to be offered a place at Cornell.
Situation: As a sponsored MBA candidate Will had a number of factors in his favor, including a highly international profile and strong experience in the renewables industry. But he was also unsure about his post-MBA goals, and a poor GMAT score did not represent his true academic potential.
Strategy: Fortuna ensured that Will approached his MBA application with clear, relevant career goals. And, since he had identified a school with a strong record of positive LGBT influence, we encouraged him to be open and share this part of himself in his essays.
Result: Admitted to LBS
Originally from the US, Will had worked and lived in a number of countries, was multilingual, and offered a very international profile. Supported by a well-travelled family, he was keen to apply to a top MBA program with a global focus and a supportive LGBT community.
Will had good consulting experience behind him, most of which had been focused in the renewables sector. But he was struggling with opening up about his sexuality at work and did not have a clear picture of his post-MBA goals.
Fortuna worked to support Will in a number of different ways. Initially he had intended to apply early to his target schools, but after underperforming in GMAT his coach suggested that in the interests of submitting the most competitive application possible, he should wait and submit later in the year. This gave Will time to retest and improve his score. It also allowed him to work together with his coach to fine-tune his post-MBA goals. Company sponsorship meant that returning to work there was extremely tempting, but Will was also considering a move into a different industry.
Together, Will and his coach decided that he would present the most compelling case for admission by focusing on a return to his firm in a senior consulting role. This would allay any issues around recruitment, and was a sensible next career step. Once accepted on the program, he could of course then take time to explore alternative avenues. Since Will had identified a school with a strong record of positive LGBT influence, we encouraged him to be open and share this part of himself in his essays. Then, if accepted, he could begin his next chapter without feeling compelled to hide such an important part of his life. Finally, we made sure that Will’s profile showcased his exceptional community involvement and volunteer work.
Will was accepted at LBS, his dream school.
Situation: Simone knew she needed to enhance her strong technical background with a top MBA if she was to recognize her ambitions of becoming a business leader in the technology space. However, an international move at a critical point in her undergraduate degree had impacted both her grades, and her confidence.
Strategy: Fortuna advised Simone to identify her unique selling points, those factors specific to her profile that would set her apart in a very competitive pool. Together, we worked with Simone to highlight her multiple successes as the first female engineer within her organization, and her demonstrated ability to combine technical excellence with strong mentoring and leadership skills.
Result: Admitted to HBS, Yale and Tuck
A qualified engineer, Simone worked in a project management role for a major multinational company. Successfully forging a path in a male-dominated environment, she experienced a period of rapid career growth before realizing her career was beginning to plateau.
Determined only to apply to the very best b-schools, Simone had some hurdles to overcome in attaining her ultimate MBA acceptance. Despite attending her undergraduate university on a full scholarship, a combination of culture shock and a lack of confidence meant her early grades were below expectations. Although they improved in the latter stages of her degree, Simone graduated with a GPA substantially below her academic capabilities and more importantly, the expectations of her target business schools.
The Fortuna team knew that Simone’s many professional successes – including a fast promotional track, top performance ratings and the ability to successfully manage others – would make her a strong value-add in any MBA classroom. To ensure this translated into convincing essays, her coach put a high priority on identifying examples that showcased Simone’s ability to create inspiring and collaborative learning environments in the workplace, and her experience manage cross-border multicultural teams.
Simone’s coach also encouraged her to detail the challenges she had faced and overcome as the first female to achieve a management role in her traditionally male-dominated organization. This reflected Simone’s drive and determination, providing the admissions committee with further insight into her ability to persuade and influence across all levels.
Simone’s leadership skills were also clearly in evidence outside the workplace, where she had spent time working to increase the number of women engaging in science and engineering studies. Highlighting her ongoing efforts mentoring STEM students gave further weight to Simone’s core competencies leading and managing others. More importantly, it identified her as an alumna who would always give back to both her business school, and the wider community.
Offered at all three business schools she applied to, Simone ultimately accepted a place at HBS.