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Admissions Director Q&A: Lindsay Loyd of NYU Stern

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Take a deep dive into MBA admissions at the NYU Stern School of Business with Lindsay Loyd, Executive Director of MBA Admissions, in this edition of our Admissions Director Q&A series.

Lindsay leads the recruiting and admissions efforts for Stern’s Full-time MBA Programs, including the two-year Full-time MBA, and focused one-year MBAs: the Andre Koo Technology & Entrepreneurship MBA and Fashion & Luxury MBA. She joined NYU Stern in January 2023 after a 20-year career in financial services. Lindsay is a seasoned business leader with extensive experience in acquisition, engagement, and loyalty marketing, across digital, direct, and face-to-face channels. During her time at American Express, she brought new B2B partnerships to market, and led marketing efforts for Amex co-branded products with Delta and Marriott. Lindsay holds a BA in Economics from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Read on for her insights into the school, what to expect in your interview and more.

Lindsay Loyd, Executive Director, MBA Admissions, NYU Stern

Clear Admit: What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

Lindsay Loyd: This may seem obvious because “New York” is in our name and is our location, but it goes so much deeper than that. It’s our locational endowment!  Stern is in and of the city, intertwined with it. What does this mean for our students? We offer a vast array of Stern Solutions experiential learning opportunities for our MBAs. These are electives for those in our two-year program, while they are baked into the curricula for our focused one-year programs, the Andre Koo Technology and Entrepreneurship MBA and the Fashion and Luxury MBA. Our NYC location allows us to source projects across a broad set of industries– from tech, to fashion, to real estate, to finance, and more. It allows C-suite executives to attend a board meeting in the morning, then guest lecture or teach a class in the afternoon. We have a deep base of local alumni for networking, and the Stern administration builds and nurtures strong relationships with top NY employers to create lasting talent pipelines for recruitment and placement.

CA: Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision?

LL:  I want to start off with some basic mechanics on the Stern approach to deadlines and our admissions cycle. It’s worth a moment to clarify because our process is a bit different than our peers. It’s not a purely rolling process, nor are there structured rounds. We operate a hybrid ongoing review, structured around four submission deadlines for applicants. Each deadline has a corresponding “initial notification deadline,” which is the absolute latest date by which you’ll hear about next steps from us. Those steps are: invite to interview, waitlist, or denial of admission. Many will receive notification before then, as we don’t wait for a deadline to pass to start reading applications, and we try to release decisions as soon as we make them. We know the MBA application process can involve anxious waiting, and we make best efforts to minimize it. I encourage folks to submit their application whenever it’s ready. Applicants don’t have to wait for a deadline to press submit.

Every single application we receive is read in its entirety by multiple reviewers on the MBA Admissions team and evaluated holistically across three dimensions: academic potential, professional achievements and aspirations, and personal characteristics. Our emphasis on both intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence, what we call IQ + EQ, is top of mind throughout the reading and evaluation process. We try to exemplify it as an Admissions team through all of the “get to know Stern” events and materials we offer, and we seek and screen for it in prospective students. We build a class and community with individuals who demonstrate it. Our application is designed to help applicants highlight not just what they’ve done, but how they’ve done it, and how they’ve inspired others around them.

If the initial notification is “invite to interview,” an applicant will have the opportunity to get that scheduled. Once the interview has been completed, the application goes back to the committee for at least two more reads. If the decision is admit, the application will also be reviewed for merit-based scholarship awards. After the interview is complete, we typically get back to the candidate with a decision within three weeks. If someone is being offered a spot in the class, they get a phone call with the good news. It’s a lot of fun to make these calls!

We offer regular “Mock Application Sessions” via Zoom throughout the year, and they are very helpful for demystifying the process.

CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read an essay? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?

LL:  What we tell applicants is that the application and all of its components, including the essays, should be a cohesive narrative of who you are, what your aspirations are, and what you are hoping to experience with your MBA. And the key word across all of that is YOU. Be authentic and be you! Spend some quiet time before getting too deep into this whole process, and really think about what’s important to you. Reflect on your personal values, strengths, and development areas. Investing time in this will give your research into different programs better context, which can help you narrow down your target programs, and ultimately enable you to write stronger application essays.  

Regarding Stern’s essays, we know the short answer question on professional aspirations is short. It’s short by design. This is the written version of the applicant’s 30-second elevator pitch. Be concise and answer what is asked: What are your short-term career goals?

Our “Change” and “Pick Six” essays are an opportunity for applicants to have some fun and introduce themselves more personally to the admissions committee. These essays are also where we are looking for elements of EQ – self-awareness, empathy, communication, resilience, openness to new ideas and diverse perspectives, etc.

CA: Could you tell us about your interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Who conducts the interview (students, admissions officers, alumni) and what is the nature of the interview (resume-based, application-based, behavioral)? Will your admissions interviews be in-person or virtual for the 2023-2024 admissions season?

LL: The interview is by invitation only and is required for admission. About 30 percent of applicants are invited to interview. Our interviews are 30 minutes long and conducted exclusively by admissions officers via Zoom, so it’s a pretty consistent experience for everyone. Interviews are not blind – the person interviewing you will have reviewed your application and resume. It’s very conversational and gives us a chance to get to know an applicant beyond the application, get a sense of their communication style, and understand how a Stern MBA fits into their career journey at this time. It’s also an opportunity for candidates to ask questions and get to know Stern a little better, so come prepared!

CA: What is your testing policy? Do you offer exam waivers? Why or why not?

LL: We are very much test agnostic and consider a test score just one data point in the bigger picture of the application. It is helpful in evaluating academic readiness for our program.  We accept the GMAT, GRE, EA, LSAT, MCAT, and DAT, and we have no preference for one test over another. We’ll only consider the highest score, so applicants should feel free to retake a test or try a different test if they feel they can improve upon their score. 

A standardized test score is a required component for an application to our two-year Full-time MBA Program and one-year focused Fashion & Luxury MBA Program. If a candidate is unable to take or prepare for a standardized test, but is otherwise able to demonstrate academic readiness, they may submit an application for a test score waiver. Those who provide examples (e.g., strong analytical or quantitative undergraduate or graduate majors, professional work experience, certifications, etc.) may be more likely to be granted a test score waiver.

The one-year focused Andre Koo Technology and Entrepreneurship MBA Program will continue to be test-optional for the 2023-24 cycle. While applicants to the Tech MBA won’t be required to provide a test score, I encourage applicants to do so if they feel it aids their candidacy.

CA: Could you tell us about the waitlist? What can waitlisted applicants do to maximize their chances of being accepted to your program? Does your office allow for waitlisted applicants to submit additional materials (e.g. letters of support, job updates, new test scores, etc)?

LL: We accept updates from waitlisted applicants. If an applicant has relevant news to share, we want to hear about it! But first, I would encourage them to tap into that EQ and self-awareness. What we tell applicants is – try to let go of the things you can’t control or change at this point (e.g., undergrad GPA), and focus instead on the things you can improve or add to your profile. Perhaps that means re-taking a test. Maybe it’s leaning into a stretch project at work or a leadership opportunity in an extracurricular activity.

CA: Tell us briefly about two popular courses at your institution.

LL: The Endless Frontier Labs (EFL) at NYU Stern is a nine-month, goal-oriented mentorship program for massively scalable tech and life science startups from around the world. Founded and led by Chen and Yao Family Director Professor Deepak Hegde, EFL also includes a year-long MBA companion course, which gives students a unique front-row seat to the startup process and the opportunity to provide business development support to the founders in the program. Some MBA students have even gone on to work for the startups they partnered with. 

Another interesting one I’ll mention is “Becoming You: Crafting Your Authentic Life and Career,” taught by business journalist and author Professor Suzy Welch. The course guides students through the journey of discovering the right career. Applicants can even listen to Professor Welch talk about the course on this episode of Stern Chats, a podcast run by Stern MBAs

CA: Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?

LL: At Stern, we develop leadership agility in a pretty unique way, especially through the School’s Leadership Accelerator.  Professor Nate Pettit is the Director, and he has crafted an intensely interactive and experiential approach to teaching leadership. One way that has really come to life is through the Live Case, which took place in person for the first time in spring 2023. MBAs were able to participate in this co-curricular initiative, which was akin to a Broadway production! Small groups of students were told they were part of an executive management team of an NYC coffee shop charged with determining a new market for one of the company’s products. Then the case sprang off the page as more than 30 professional actors, as well as Stern administrators and alumni who took on the role of the board of directors, started interacting with the teams in real-time. Students had to think on their feet and make quick decisions. The goal was to create the kinds of unexpected challenges they would face in their professional careers and prepare them with the skills to succeed. Afterward, the students received personalized feedback from coaches to help with their development. 

If MBAs would like even more of this kind of experiential leadership development, they can apply to take part in the Leadership Accelerator’s Makhoul Family Leadership Fellows Program, which was offered as a for-credit course for the first time last fall. 

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.