This Brit bagged offers to pursue his MBA from Harvard and Stanford — here’s how he did it

US business schools
Kieran Carty is pursuing his MBA to accelerate his professional development. Source: Kieran Carty

Are you gunning for an MBA? US business schools are among the best in the world, and leading university rankings attest to this. 

They account for six of the top 10 schools listed in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2021, and eight of the top 10 schools in the Financial Times’ MBA rankings.

An offer to study at any of these institutions serves as the pinnacle of a students’ journey as they attract the brightest students globally.

In December, Kieran Carty bagged offers from two competitive schools — Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School — to pursue his MBA.

The 28-year-old is set to explore his entrepreneurial ambitions at Stanford with a scholarship under his belt.

Ahead of his move to California in September, we speak to him to find out more about what was challenging about the MBA application process, as well as his tips for aspiring MBAs:

us business schools

US business schools are among the best in the world. Source: Karen Ducey/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Hi Kieran. Can you tell us about yourself?

I am from South London and have worked as an investment professional in the impact investment and global private equity industries for the past six years since graduating from the University of Manchester in 2015 where I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics.   

My career began at Credit Suisse, where I interned for a number of years on the Steps to Success Scholarship programme. Post-graduation, I joined Credit Suisse full-time as an Investment Banking Analyst focused on M&A (mergers and acquisitions) for financial institutions. 

In 2017, I joined an emerging market private equity fund and moved to Nairobi, Kenya. In 2019, I joined the Soros Economic Development Fund and had been fortunate to invest and repeatedly travel to places like India, Ghana and Kenya, to name a few.

Outside of work I do a bunch of volunteering in the local Black community through a non-profit I set up, Black British City Group. 

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I decided to apply for an MBA for two reasons: 

1) To buy the time and career security I felt I needed to explore entrepreneurship 

2) To accelerate my professional development

You bagged offers from two US business schools: Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Congratulations! Why did you decide to go with Stanford for your MBA? 

It came down to two things really: the financial aid on offer at Stanford was stronger than HBS, and secondly, my experience with the senior alumni. 

Stanford made helpful intros, and I spoke with very senior professionals. Hearing their perspective swung it for me. That being said, comparatively, the HBS alumni network stands out as bigger and more relevant to my ambitions and background outside the US.

Was there a reason for choosing to study at a US business school over the UK? 

In all honesty, no, it’s only because the best business schools according to rank and reputation are in the US. 

Was there anything particularly challenging when applying for an MBA programme? If yes, how did you overcome it?

I’d say the GRE/GMAT was the most technically challenging and painful part of the process because it requires months of hard and, at times, monotonous self-study. I got through it by remaining persistent and using online resources.

What are you most looking forward to when attending Stanford or by being in California in September?

Meeting new people, going skiing and exploring the nearby national parks. 

Do you have any tips for students thinking about pursuing their MBA?

Sure. I am working on an e-book that will be out this month that gives tips, advice and a whole lot more, but for now, I’d say:

1. Shoot your shot

2. Understand what you bring to a potential MBA class

3. Be genuine, vulnerable and authentic 

4. Illustrate, don’t tell — you have very few words in your application to paint a picture of who you are 

5. Give yourself plenty of time  

6. Tell your story in the way only you can tell 

7. Generate a pool of examples

I expand on each of these in the e-book

What matters more to you: work satisfaction, salary, social life, or a work/life balance? Why?

Work/life balance because I think it’s key to being productive and successful over the long term. It’s easy to over-index on social life, compensation and work satisfaction but balancing work and life is key for long term happiness, in my opinion.

What would your advice be if you had a time machine to go back for a one-on-one mentoring session with yourself?

Start writing things down and documenting things sooner. Life and one’s career can be an incredible journey, particularly when you’re ambitious and adventurous like I am, so make the most of it but also savour the journey.