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Does my MBA plan make sense? Transition to fashion retail

bond928

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I believe its time to shoot for an MBA, because I want a career change. It seems I have to choose either finance or marketing (can you even double-focus?) to develop a strong case for my candidacy. Background: - Mid twenties, worked in DC as a government technology (IT) consultant & project manager. - Two promotions in a short period. Led several teams at work and in extracurriculars. Note--some of them are MBAs themselves. - Front office revenue generating work with government proposal responses. - Currently salary is competitive with market for my position, but not top tier. - Two extracurriculars I am a chair and a nonprofit project lead. - Undergrad engineering at top 20 state public university. 3.0+ So-so GPA. - 700+ GMAT - Single, no mortgage, ready to focus on career for the next 5 years. Serious dating and marriage would probably occur after 30. Side details: - Worked a 2nd job at a major high-end retail chain. - Trying to figure out how to combine my individual background and interests: technology used in business, finance, international fashion retail. A weird combo, I know. The best example is Gilt Groupe, but that's already been invented. Looking at the exec bios, I can picture myself exploring the same career paths as they did: http://giltpartners.com/exec.html I base the following completely on internet research, because I have very few contacts to consult related to my career goal: Short Term (5 years): ibank or management consultancy to get rigorous hands on experience/understanding with businesses and deals, M&A, etc. Transition: Work corporate strategy, transition to a marketing role. Long term (next 10-15 years): Lead a fashion retail company (ex. Uniqlo) and its international strategy. Lead its technology strategy (ex. Platforms, e-commerce, etc.) in achieving goals. Finance/Invest/lead emerging brands. Advise or join unique startups like Gilt. My question—does my proposed career trajectory make sense? It’s a given I might end up changing my mind while in b-school as most students do. However, the hardest part is selling my story to get in, and I’m hoping someone could critique my thinking. I'm open to any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance.
 

HRoi

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MBA sounds like a good option for you with that GMAT score and that experience. You might want to skip the short term and transition part though, and just target a product management or development internship and ft job at a fashion oriented large company. Then do your own thing after you get the experience.

If you want to run your own startup, may I suggest also getting some ops/supply chain experience while at that big company..?
 

bananananana

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Yeah the short term/transition goals you put doesn't seem to add up. They seem like something you just put to try to fit in with the majority of mba students. Just because the gilt founders took that road doesn't mean you have to, and you shouldn't do banking or mbb if that's not what you want to do.

The other major thing is don't mistake your shopping preferences with your business/career goals. You put Uniqlo as an example company, but why them and not Gap or LVMH or Macys or Coach? Is it just because you like their clothes or something about their business? And retail marketing is very diverse compared to say CPG marketing. Have some semblence of where you'd like to focus. Finally, you say you want to lead the technology/e commerce strategy. But why exactly fashion apparel? Is it simply because you like clothes or is there something about the industry that interests you from a business perspective? Again, don't project your shopping habits into your career unless you have a good reason, because schools will ask you during interviews, and for some schools like HBS and Wharton, the interview is weighed pretty heavily from my understanding.
 

dragon8

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The short term goals will open alot of doors for you in any industry.
 

bond928

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Thanks for the starting advice everyone, I appreciate it. Some more side information to gain insight in my situation:
  • Frankly, I'm bored with my current career. There's really nothing wrong with my job/role, and I've developed a lot of responsibility for my age and salary level. I know the current trajectory, how the game is played at my company, but its too stable. It's a well respected company, but I've lived in the area way too long (all my life). Actually, my peers think I'm crazy for wanting to leave the economically insular area of DC that is tech + govt contracting. Salaries continue to be higher than the national median, especially in this area. Google Arlington, VA, Bethesda, MD, Rockville, MD, Fairfax, etc. and you'll see them floating at the top of median income lists and so forth.
  • I foresee myself jumping jobs ever 5 years. I want to try ibanking. I want to try a marketing role. It sounds wishy washy, but I genuinely do want to try all sorts of careers. I suppose I'm in between Gen Y and Millenials, and I could not do any job where I'd become a lifer. I simply like exploring new areas (just as I do with the 20+ hobbies I've developed).
  • I'm looking to relocate or travel periodically until I'm about 30-35. I'm looking for a career that allows me to experience the world.
  • I enjoy wide angle analysis, looking at the big-picture. Over time, my tech 'expertise' has become mile wide and foot deep. Thus, I think the MBA will introduce me to new fields where I'll become deeply interested in a particular arena; such as finance or marketing.
  • After a bit more research, the fashion industry seems like it could be crappy. See this thread. I could be misinformed, because that OP is looking for more creative outlets, where I'm looking more at the potential leadership/CFO/CTO roles you might find at a fashion company.
Originally Posted by HRoi
MBA sounds like a good option for you with that GMAT score and that experience. You might want to skip the short term and transition part though, and just target a product management or development internship and ft job at a fashion oriented large company. Then do your own thing after you get the experience. If you want to run your own startup, may I suggest also getting some ops/supply chain experience while at that big company..?
Thanks, I'll research a bit more at those two particular areas.
Originally Posted by bananananana
Yeah the short term/transition goals you put doesn't seem to add up. They seem like something you just put to try to fit in with the majority of mba students. Just because the gilt founders took that road doesn't mean you have to, and you shouldn't do banking or mbb if that's not what you want to do. The other major thing is don't mistake your shopping preferences with your business/career goals. You put Uniqlo as an example company, but why them and not Gap or LVMH or Macys or Coach? Is it just because you like their clothes or something about their business? And retail marketing is very diverse compared to say CPG marketing. Have some semblence of where you'd like to focus. Finally, you say you want to lead the technology/e commerce strategy. But why exactly fashion apparel? Is it simply because you like clothes or is there something about the industry that interests you from a business perspective? Again, don't project your shopping habits into your career unless you have a good reason, because schools will ask you during interviews, and for some schools like HBS and Wharton, the interview is weighed pretty heavily from my understanding.
I think its simply because I like clothes; I admit I did not think it through so thoroughly. You bring up very valid points that force me to take a deeper introspective look at why I am pitching fashion. One reason would be to have a differentiator on my app. Secondly, I'm pursuing my holy grail of jobs, attempting to combine several long-term career interests into a career role. What I'm learning quickly is this may not appear or exist for a while. Your questioning has poked holes in my argument, so I'll need to revisit and search deep to come up with valid answers...it seems I may have to revise my thinking.
Originally Posted by dragon8
The short term goals will open alot of doors for you in any industry.
Yep, I was thinking so based on cursory research. It seems ibanking and/or MBB will yield the most options, given the rigor and wide swath of experience gained after your first few years. I leaned towards ibanking because it seems I'd like putting in the hours--and its something refreshing from my current job/role.
 

Lord-Barrington

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It makes slightly more sense than the classic: Ivy UG -- IB -- Top MBA -- PE --Billionaire "plan", but not by much.

Going from MBA to MC to strategy is doable but it takes awhile and the "transition" from there to fashion seems tenuous at best. Furthermore, your plan to drift around without specializing is terrible if you plan on actually running shit later. Specialization in both industry AND sector is critical, based on every bit of evidence I've ever seen.

This isn't to say your plan is bad and the first part of it (MBA to MC) seems doable in the near future. You have to remember that the higher up the ladder you go, the less "control" ylu have over your destiny in some ways. A lot more things at the CXO level (which is wear you seem to want to go) are determined by whims and sharp elbows more than by anything else.
 

Quadcammer

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I'm sorry, but "i want to try Ibanking" will not get you an interview, much less a job.

Unless you have excellent pedigree, top of your class grades, or connections, Ibanking jobs are not growing on trees.

stern MBA '09
 

cday

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Getting an MBA with a concentration in Finance will help you land a job with a bank, but you'll have to work your way up until you're actually making any investment decisions. Depending on your background, this may be the way to go to get your foot in the door.
 
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you are going to have to decide between this
Originally Posted by bond928
  • I foresee myself jumping jobs ever 5 years. I want to try ibanking. I want to try a marketing role. It sounds wishy washy, but I genuinely do want to try all sorts of careers. I suppose I'm in between Gen Y and Millenials, and I could not do any job where I'd become a lifer. I simply like exploring new areas (just as I do with the 20+ hobbies I've developed).
and this:
  • I enjoy wide angle analysis, looking at the big-picture. Over time, my tech 'expertise' has become mile wide and foot deep. Thus, I think the MBA will introduce me to new fields where I'll become deeply interested in a particular arena; such as finance or marketing.
you simply cannot get a depth of expertise in a field while field hopping regularly...it doesn't work. A few random thoughts that may or may not be relevant. You have five posts and live on the other side of the world, so I am not pretending to Know You, but tossing a few things out there to consider. As for me, the mile wide and foot deep is a preference. I like that I can talk with just about anyone about just about anything. They will always know more than me, and this is how I learn, but by being a consultant, there aren't a lot of fields I'm not conversational in. But even that is the result of 12 years in the field. You can't expect that doing an MBA and spending a couple of years in investment banking will make you an expert. Your pond may be a mile-n-a-bit wide, but it's still only a foot deep. Ditto marketing - hell, I've been in that for 12 years and my pond probably comes up to my neck now. Don't forget also that all of these fields are dynamic. You walk out of one after five years, and ya, your pond is a foot deep when you left, but in a couple of years, by virtue of changes in the field and lack of practise...you're down to a few inches. Also, note that you are not going to get away with all that many job-hops. People in HR aren't dumb. They probably have MBAs too. And they probably have more depth in their field than you do in yours. They will see you as unsettled, unstable, and a poor long term bet when they see you jumping around between industries over a sustained period.
 

pebblegrain

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You can fairly easily get an MBA-level marketing position at a large mass-market fashion company (Gap, Revlon, Moet, etc) which all have entrenched MBA internship-to-full-time systems in place. These jobs start around 90k or less but you certainly are on a path to upper level strategy, if you show ambition and ability. Once you've done a couple years in NYC at any of these old school companies, you can hop to comparable companies easily.

like others have stated, skip the buzzword finance ibanking bullshit, even a marketing intern should have opportunities to use financial modeling in their summer responsibilities

also, the above is regarding your actual plan and not your pretend plan you put on your application. I have no idea what would make it easier for you to get into a top biz school - you will need to tailor those lies to your current resume

lastly, you can't really plan for a career path like the founders of Gilt. they had a specific startup idea and executed it with serious help from VCs. you should decide whether you want to be a startup entrepreneury guy, or a typical MBA marketing manager in a fashion-oriented company. the latter is faaaaaar easier
 

saiyar1

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Originally Posted by Quadcammer
I'm sorry, but "i want to try Ibanking" will not get you an interview, much less a job.

Unless you have excellent pedigree, top of your class grades, or connections, Ibanking jobs are not growing on trees.

stern MBA '09



Hey, fellow Sternie here. Class of 2012
 

BC2012

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Originally Posted by bond928
I believe its time to shoot for an MBA, because I want a career change. It seems I have to choose either finance or marketing (can you even double-focus?) to develop a strong case for my candidacy.

Not at most schools - and it's a strange mix. Finance and marketing are totally different areas in a firm, so the dreaded "why did you pick your major" becomes untenable for you.

- Two promotions in a short period. Led several teams at work and in extracurriculars. Note--some of them are MBAs themselves.
- Front office revenue generating work with government proposal responses.
- Two extracurriculars I am a chair and a nonprofit project lead.
Clearly focus on these in your application. You aren't a top candidate for an M7 (or most top 15) schools unless that 700+ is more like a 750+. You need a clear and concise reason for wanting an MBA. Wanting to integrate fashion and IT is great (see: Zara case by Harvard), but you need to convey HOW an MBA will help you get there. Remember, the MBA is a managerial degree (more pointedly its a 'good-ol'-boys network degree), so you need to speak to how it will bridge the gap to your goal.

Your goals are not realistic, to be blunt. IBD and consulting are TOTALLY different. I have two boutique IB interviews coming up and if they asked me the common 'where else are you interviewing' and I said Bain and BCG I'd be laughed out of the office. You need to focus - do you want to do LBO valuations and write pitch books or do five forces analyses and deal with more qualitative stuff in a consulting role? I'm at a decent, but not great MBA/MSF dual program and I know better than to try knocking on the door of Lazard due to my grad pedigree (a decision I made when I turned down Stern). Find out what you want, focus on getting into a school that is a good fit for your profile, and then reevaluate once you have decisions.

If you apply to any top 50 MBA program with that plan of attack you'll be dinged (unless they just want your GMAT score and then plan on showing you the cold reality once you're in - happens a lot).

If you want marketing, just concentrate in marketing and get a brand management role at a fashion firm (Stern has a fashion club that has made some noise IIRC). If you want consulting, go to a school that places with the 1st and/or 2nd tier firms. If you want finance, go to a finance school. If you want to discuss in more detail, I'd be more than happy to talk.
 

scientific

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if you want to 'follow in the footsteps of Gilt' all you need is some rich parents

agree w others that your plan doesn't make much sense. unfortunately 'jump around and sample everything' is not very possible in this world. there's a ton of unemployed ibankers out there
 

mkarim

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Originally Posted by scientific
agree w others that your plan doesn't make much sense. unfortunately 'jump around and sample everything' is not very possible in this world. there's a ton of unemployed ibankers out there

Agreed.
 

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