"Once you get that GMAT score that you’re looking for, the journey is only half way through."
Submitted by Rich Barbier, Full-time MBA student at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
My name is Richard Barbier, and I am a Haitian-American MBA student who was born in Brooklyn, NY. I have a broad range of interests, including a love for sports, cooking, mentorship, and coaching. As an undergraduate at New York University’s Stern School of Business, I gained invaluable opportunities to tap into each of those four interest areas. I explored New York City’s amazing food scene from top to bottom while also enjoying some of the best seasons that the Mets, Yankees, and Giants had to offer. More importantly, NYU taught me to embrace mentorship through extensive group projects and student organization participation. Additionally, the university supported the development of my coaching interests, as I was given extensive backing in starting a high school mentorship program over my final two years.
These interest areas only grew during my five years as a Management Consultant in the Washington D.C. area, where I essentially served as an apprentice to some of the sharpest minds in government consulting. Naturally, mentorship and coaching included professional fundamentals such as business case analyses and business process reengineering. More surprisingly though, I found that I got even better personal development insight such as balancing work-family ties and expanding my cultural culinary range. After five years of personal and professional development in consulting, I decided to pursue an MBA to harness my managerial approach to leading people and teams. Moreover, I want to establish the foundation for a long-term pursuit of a sports business career. I firmly believe that, with enough dedication, I can ultimately do the type of work that combines several of my passions in order to create a true work-life harmony in which work barely feels like work.
Dream career: My dream career is a front office position with an NBA franchise. Over the years, notable general managers with consulting backgrounds have proven that MBAs who were not athletes have the potential to positively impact the league. Combining a strategic approach to business development with my years of passion for the game will place me amongst a limited subset of professionals who effectively attain the jobs that they dreamed of having as children.
Why business school? Business school was a necessary next step to enhance both short and long term growth. After consulting federal clients for five years, I recognized that I needed commercial consulting experience to enhance the breadth and depth of my consulting toolkit. By joining the Kellogg community, I knew that I would get global insight into both theory and application of business strategies and concepts. Concurrently, I recognized that joining the MBA recruitment path would be the most effective way to learn about the best consulting firms in the world and prepare myself to apply for consulting opportunities alongside peers with similar ambitions.
Best GMAT study tip? At some point in your development, turn off the timer! At the midpoint of your preparation, take the time to really figure out what type of problems are just weakness areas. If you consistently take 20 minutes to solve a type of problem and still find that these problems are incorrect, you should take note. The GMAT is all about knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses. When the timer is on, you have to know which problems aren’t worth the extra time sacrifice and move on accordingly.
Before business school, I was: A management consultant supporting federal agencies across Washington, DC.
When I’m not in class, you’ll find me: on the basketball courts enjoying the Kellogg Basketball Club. The Kellogg mentality translates amazingly onto the courts, as everyone shares the ball and moves amazingly without the ball in hand. It makes for great competition every time out.
Advice for anyone thinking about b-school? Don’t lock into one particular school too early. Think about the specific skills and lessons that you hope to learn first. From there, you can research the schools that meet your goals while also catering to your needs in terms of cost, location, and class size. Too often, folks read too far into rankings and overlook schools that may represent a better fit.
My remedy for pre-test nerves: Music! Walk into the test site blasting whatever tunes that would get you amped for a workout or a big game. The GMAT is just another obstacle waiting to be conquered, just like a treadmill or big football game.
On the day before your exam, you should: Eat a great meal and do anything but study! At this point, you know what you know. Make sure you’re in a position to feel good the next day.
How did you fit studying for the GMAT exam into your busy schedule? Join a class. Adding an appointment to your calendar helps you avoid the trap of only studying on your spare time. Let’s face it: studying is not fun. Class environments are tremendously helpful in adding a clear time box dedicated to studying. I recognize that the costs can get a bit pricey, but the payoff can be huge.
How well-prepared for business school do you feel, after studying for the GMAT exam?
After the GMAT, you’ve demonstrated that you can study for hours in order to reach your goals. The drive, effort, and willingness to put in work are the key differentiators between MBAs who accomplish their dreams and those who do not. If you are able to conquer that GMAT, you’ll be ready for b-school as long as you hold on to the attributes that helped you win the race. Do not get complacent once you get the score you wanted. Use the energy to dedicate yourself to your applications, your job, and any pre-MBA experiences that you take part in.
Improve Your GMAT Score with a Second Attempt
"I definitely advise once identifying your weak points, seeking out the support and assistance of a tutor or possibly even taking a class."
"Hi, my name is Richard Barbier and I am currently a first-year student at the Kellogg School of Management’s two-year program. I want to talk to you a bit today about taking the GMAT on a second occasion. As I know many students ultimately end up taking the GMAT as many as five times for some, I definitely want to share some insights that I gained taking the GMAT on my second occasion. But primarily, I want to start by talking about using your initial GMAT score as a real indicator and as a real guide for how you approach the GMAT on your second occasion. For me, I really took a look at what areas were strongest for me. I ended up performing much better on verbal than I expected to entering into the exam. And I use this as an indicator that perhaps I was stronger than what I gave myself credit for. This allowed me to really pinpoint math as an area that I would really focus in on and quantitative became the guiding principle for where I needed the most improvement. And with that in mind I definitely advise once identifying your weak points, seeking out the support and assistance of a tutor or possibly even taking a class. What this really does is add structure along the lines of how you prepare for the exam moving forward. I also advise working with this instructor to really develop a strategy for when and how you approach certain elements of the exam. So, for example, if math is your real challenge how can you really piece apart geometry, for instance, such that you’re taking geometry in smaller chunks and really gaining a mastery of core concepts. Finally, as you work all these moving parts and really start to strengthen your verbal skills and your quantitative skills, I definitely advise you at some point in the process to just turn off the timer while taking an actual practice GMAT exam. I think that we get so much great advice from so many different outlets that ultimately we get a bit confused as to just how to really solve certain problems. We’re constantly thinking about that timer in the back of our minds and we’re more test takers than actual problem solvers. What I found was that by turning off the timer I really pushed myself to assess which areas I understood fully and which areas, despite taking 20 minutes to try to solve the problem, were just weak areas for my personal progress at the time. Using this, I was able to develop another game plan with my tutor to really figure out, alright, can I really learn the concepts or were these just areas that I would have to essentially move over or move past when actually taking the exam? At the end of the day, the GMAT really is all about knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. I hope that these tips come out helpful and I wish you the best of luck on your journey ahead."
Find Support During the Business School Application Process
"One helpful tip that I received was reaching out to an individual that has no insight into the business school application process and have them review your content."
"My name is Richard Barbier and I'm a first year student at the Kellogg School of Management. Today I want to talk a little bit about the business school application process as a whole. Once you get that GMAT score that you’re looking for, the journey is only half way through. You still have to put forth a suitable application that schools can review and really use to get to know you as a candidate. That takes quite a bit of time. One of the first steps that I took once I was in the application set was to really think about who my recommenders would be. And once I identified those individuals, I reached out to them immediately such that they would have ample time to give thought and write thoughtful recommendations on my behalf. Don’t sell yourself short on this regard. You want to leave at least six weeks or so if possible for these recommenders to again reach out to you with any questions that they may have or any concerns that they may have or even just review your resume. You want them to have ample time. Once these is done you want to give focus to those essays. And we all know that that’s quite the challenge as well as. Give yourself time to write an outline before writing your actual essay. And once that’s complete you also want to make sure that you’re proofreading carefully to ensure that you’re conveying the message that you seek to deliver. One helpful tip that I received was reaching out to an individual that has no insight into the business school application process and have them review your content. If they can fully understand the message that you’re delivering, you know that you’re in good shape. All in all this entire process can easily take up to two or three months. So you want to make sure that you leave ample time. I hope that this proves helpful. Good luck."
Choose Wisely When Deciding on a Business School
"I wanted to think about the access to the recruiters that mattered most."
"Hi, my name is Richard Barbier. I’m a first year student at the Kellogg School of Management. Today I want to talk to you a little bit about factors to consider on selecting the ideal business school, and this list can go on and on, but I just wanted to share some of the factors that really came into play when I made the decision to attend Kellogg. First and foremost, I had to think about the city that I wanted to be a part of. It’s a two-year process for most and some individuals have a one-year program. But ultimately you want to think about an environment that you’ll feel comfortable living in. If you want that balance of city and quiet life like I did, Kellogg proves to be an ideal location, because we’re here in the Evanston suburb but within an arm’s reach of the great city of Chicago. But this isn’t just about Kellogg. When I think about the greater process overall I wanted to think about the type of classes that I would take, making sure that I had the strategy and marketing focus that I personally was seeking. I wanted to think about the access to the recruiters that mattered most and I was assured that Kellogg had access to all the consulting firms that I really wanted to be able to recruit with. Also, you want to think about the global opportunities. And that was an area that really stood out to me from a Kellogg perspective as there are several exchange and cultural excursion programs available through Kellogg. But you only really begin to know these elements by visiting the actual school and listening to what current students have to say. And that ultimately leads me to the biggest part, which is culture. This is a factor that you can never really put a finger on and you can’t really read in any individual brochure or website listing. Ultimately you have to visit the school and just get a feel for how you interact with current students. Do you feel comfortable? Do conversations take place organically? Do you feel welcomed within a diverse space? You really want to consider these factors because ultimately you’re deciding the next one to two years of your life. Don’t take it lightly. I hope this helps. Good luck in the process ahead."
Build Your Support System Before and During Your MBA Program
"We quickly bonded over the challenges of studying for the GMAT exam, managing multiple visits and thinking about potential recommenders."
"Hi, my name is Richard Barbier and I’m currently a first year student at the Kellogg School of Management. Today I want to talk to you a little bit about developing a support system while preparing for the GMAT and the business school application process overall. I found it really helpful to develop a community of students that I really bonded with during the entire process.
One of the first things that I found that was while visiting schools I found a lot of people in my area that were essentially going through the same challenge and we quickly bonded over the challenges of studying for the GMAT, managing multiple visits and thinking about potential recommenders moving forward. This really allowed us to really bounce ideas off of one another and talk about how we could simplify the process overall.
What you really want to do with a support system is discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses in some of the individual schools that you’re looking at. What you’ll ultimately find is that this may help you narrow down a list of schools from ten, like my initial set, to ultimately the five schools that I ended up applying to. Moreover it was nice to just have a group of individuals that I could just decompress with and have lunch when I no longer wanted to talk about the GMAT.
Ultimately what you’ll find is that no one knows your challenge as well as the people that are going through it at the same exact time that you’re going through it. Lean on these individuals, bond with these individuals. It will only make you a stronger applicant and a stronger individual prepared for the process overall. I hope this helps. Good luck."