icon-case-study Stedman
Degree 3.9 from UC Davis, Environmental Science
Initial GMAT Score 610
Profile 24-year old white male seeking to pivot from project management into strategy consulting
Target Schools Berkeley Haas (Reach)
UVA Darden (Reach)
Duke Fuqua (Reach)
UCLA Anderson (Competitive/Reach)
Texas McCombs (Competitive)
USC Marshall (Safety)

Application Branding Strategy

Stedman came to us with a somewhat murky vision of why he wanted an MBA. In his words, he was tired of his job and wanted to make a lateral move to consulting. He felt he could rely on a strong GPA (3.9) and impressive resume marking 3 promotions in two years at a global energy company to punch his ticket into a Top 15 school. Trouble was, he didn’t have a “story”, a narrative that showcased who he was, where he wanted to go, why an MBA would facilitate his transition there, and what made him unique. We set out to get to know him on a deeper level so that we could create that narrative strategy.


Turns out, Stedman is a lifelong diabetic who needs to inject insulin multiple times per day just to, well, stay alive. It was something that was deeply personal to Stedman, as evidenced by the amount of time he spent volunteering at children’s hospitals, giving workshops and helping others. We made this a centerpiece of his narrative. His career ambitions to reform and overhaul the way that energy infrastructure is used to create urban prosperity was a direct outgrowth of his battle with diabetes—how to manage external factors to optimize productivity. Applications need to demonstrate a commitment to social contribution and professional engagement. We helped Stedman to refine his career vision of parlaying his experience in the energy sector into a career in corporate strategy focusing on transportation and renewable energy infrastructure.


In the end, the applications we submitted for Stedman contained much more of a three-dimensional view to the admissions committee of who he is as a professional and a socially active citizen in his community. The schools to which he was applying were looking for more than just a big GPA/GMAT score, and with Stedman, they got it.

Bottom Line

Final GMAT Score



Berkeley Haas
USC Marshall


Duke Fuqua
UVA Darden


Texas McCombs
UCLA Anderson

We help you capture the vital elements that top MBA and graduate schools looks for in your personal statement. Below is a side-by-side comparison of Stedman’s initial draft to Berkeley Haas and the final version that led to his acceptance.


Essay #2
Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal, and discuss how it will put you on a path to a meaningful and rewarding career. (300 words maximum)

Because of my remarkably unique professional experiences, my desire to facilitate economic, social, and urban advancements within the energy and the environmental sectors has never been so tenacious. I will leverage my dynamic journey at Haas to not only further accelerate transformative growth within these sectors, but also to position myself to truly be an influencer of this transformation.

Six months into my tenure at AECOM, a multi-billion, publicly-traded engineering, design, and environmental consulting firm, I found myself in a supervisory role leading a first-of-its-kind emergency response program in the midst of the largest natural gas well blowout in United States history: the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak. In December 2015, I volunteered to be part of a 14-person team tasked with inspecting Aliso Canyon’s pipeline and storage well infrastructure using revolutionary infrared camera technology on a daily basis. That’s seven days per week, 365 days per year. In January 2016, I was selected by AECOM and Southern California Gas Company executives to manage the day-to-day operations of this monitoring program. On a granular level, this role afforded me the opportunity to lead and learn from a unique mixture of young professionals and senior-level staff, some of whom had 20-plus years of consulting and engineering experience. But, on a macro level, I positioned myself to influence how Southern California Gas Company would evaluate and operationally implement the myriad of new gas storage requirements that would come to be mandated by the State of California. Through my commitment to balancing decisive decision making with listening, internalizing and subsequently implementing improvements to this daily monitoring program based on collaborative input, I quickly earned the respect of even the most senior members of my team and still manage this $7 million contract today. I have subsequently been a key player in the technological evaluation and program development of several new compliance programs not only at Aliso Canyon, but also at Southern California Gas Company’s other four gas storage fields in California.

Leadership through collaboration has been a hallmark of both my personal life, for example, serving as the four-year captain of my collegiate club baseball team, and professionally as one of AECOM’s youngest key-client managers. Haas’ uniquely intimate class size and cohort structure complement the theme of collaborative leadership in my life by mandating engagement with faculty and classmates from a diverse spectrum of cultural and professional backgrounds. This forced collaboration creates the ideal environment for me to not only build upon my strong leadership foundation, but also to be challenged intellectually and emotionally so that I may achieve a level of personal growth not possible at other MBA programs.

Furthermore, Haas’ curriculum is far more of a fluid personal journey as opposed to a rigid set of traditional business courses. While it is evident that the Haas education is rooted in the fundamentals of business management, Haas’ innovative leadership focus is what I need to catalyze my development as a dynamic and multi-dimensional business leader. In my immediate post-MBA future, I will leverage the experiences I’ve earned at Haas to continue bridging the gap between progressive environmental and energy developments and transformative implementation.


Essay #2
Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal, and discuss how it will put you on a path to a meaningful and rewarding career. (300 words maximum)

My MBA objectives are to refine my managerial capabilities, bolster my formal business knowledge and interact with socially conscious thought leaders in the environmental business space in order to lead vital urban advancements within the technology and energy sectors.

In the midst of the largest natural gas leak in United States history (Aliso Canyon), I was promoted to work on the design and implementation of an emergency response and compliance program intended to keep a quarter of Los Angeles’ 8 million residents from being evacuated. Functionally, I served as the operations coordinator, budget controller, field safety officer, and client advisor. Looking back, however, I received my greatest industry education by leading massive neighborhood evacuations.

I vividly remember bewildered residents pleading with me to stay home, while I explained that their city’s gas pipeline infrastructure and air quality were severely compromised. It was simultaneously rewarding and distressing. Through leading this program, I gleaned invaluable insights into the human element of environmental and energy big business, one that would ultimately cement my calling to revolutionize the energy and environmental sectors of tomorrow. I still manage this $7 million compliance contract, the experience having inspired me to build a career devoted to the safe, reliable, and sustainable integration of technology and energy.

After earning my MBA, I seek to influence the intersection of technology, energy, and transportation. Short term, I see myself as an operations or program manager for an organization pushing the boundaries of traditional energy management and mobility infrastructure (e.g., Hyperloop One, Siemens Energy, or Sempra Renewables). I want to lead initiatives that deliver cutting-edge energy products and services that will truly build a better world. Long term, I want to see to it that the transportation and energy infrastructure of my children’s generation never experience an Aliso Canyon.