Welcome to another edition of MBA Applicant Spotlight, in which we catch up with individuals on their admissions experiences. This week, we hear from Mauricio Coindreau, a native of Mexico who currently works as a vendor manager for Amazon. He was part of the Mexico country launch, taking on multiple vendor manager roles in several categories, including books, music, video games and most recently Amazon fashion.
After earning a Chemical Engineering degree from Monterrey’s Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mauricio worked in a number of diverse industries in his short career. He began as an entrepreneur, developing extreme mud races in Mexico while also working as a part-time high school chemistry teacher. After his company went bankrupt, he traveled to Colombia and continued his career as a consultant with London Consulting Group. He was then offered a position back in Mexico as the Head of Direct Sales in the start-up Linio, a rocket Internet venture, where he found his passion in the growing e-commerce industry. Finally, he found a home in Amazon, where he had the opportunity to innovate and, in just a couple of years, completely transform the retail industry in an emerging market.
Which part of the application process did you put off the most?
The GMAT was a real time-consuming process. As an Engineer, I did not have an issue with the quantitative section, but as a non-native English speaker, I put off all those small rules I had to study for the verbal section that really took a toll at the end.
What helped you the most during the application process?
I guess it depends for each part of the application process. For the GMAT process what helped me the most was having an awesome wife who did not mind sacrificing her weekends for me to study and was always there to help me out. In the core process, really taking the time to research the school, to call them, to e-mail them, to go to their events and to talk with their Alumni was of great help when filling out the application. Finally, for the interviews, going to Clear Admit, understanding how the process works and practicing with friends, co-workers and former Alumni was very helpful.
Which school’s application was the most fun to complete?
The most memorable was the Table of Contents Essay from Cornell, where you must create a table of contents for a book on “Your Life Story”. At the beginning, it seems easy to just create a simple chapter list of your life and submit it as PDF file, but as you begin to think outside the box you realize that you can be as creative as possible. I’ve heard students who have done songs, short clips, their own web pages and even a whole video game about their life for this essay. I personally got a great idea from my wife and did an interactive book animation video of my life’s story being read while I narrated it, similar to the beginning of a Shrek movie.
How much time did you give yourself to complete your applications? Do you wish you’d allowed more?
For me it was all about the GMAT and how fast I got the result I wanted, which ended up being about 2-3 months. After that, I really wanted to apply to London Business School on R1 as it was my first choice but I only had 10 days until the deadline. With incredible support from my co-workers, I was able to receive a lot of feedback on my essays and submitted it on the last day. For R2 with Cornell and HBS I had a lot more time and dedicated about 3 weeks to each application, the difference was very noticeable as you can work on the details and get a lot more feedback. You should plan for at least 3 weeks per application, it will be worth it.
If you could go back in time and provide yourself with one piece of advice before applying, what would it be?
To not worry so much about the GMAT. Yes, it’s important, but it’s only one piece of a very extensive application. Once you start talking to everyone who was accepted to your MBA program, you’ll realize that you are all there because you truly want the same things and fit in what the school aspires to. GMAT scores are all over the place, is more about why you want to go to a certain school and if you a right fit.
If you get accepted/got accepted to your first-choice school, who will/did you share the news with first?
I got the news late in the day so I was very nervous and some friends from work took me out for a beer to calm me down, that’s where I got the news. After that, my wife was the first call. I didn’t say anything, I just played her the song “London Calling” from The Clash.
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