Why I Coach—Geoffrey Winegar

Geoff W., an expert Leland coach, MIT MS/MBA, and BCG Consultant, outlines why he chooses to coach and what it means to him.

Geoff W.

By Geoff W.

Posted August 22, 2022

The first time I applied to business schools, I had no idea what I was doing (probably similar to most applicants!). I felt like I looked pretty good on paper, with a strong GPA and test scores, and good career pedigree. I had an idea of what I wanted to do with my career going forward. But the application process was miserably painful - I had zero understanding of the black box I was dropping my life story into, and as you may have guessed, I was rejected from every school I applied to.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. The rejection can weirdly feel both personal and impersonal at the same time, and in the worst ways of both! The part I was most bummed about was having to tell the mentors who had written my letters of recommendation. I felt like I had let them down.

But after being more open about my application process with them and several friends, peers, and colleagues, I received some invaluable feedback. When I applied the following year, I brought to my application process the perspectives of a much wider group of people around me. I learned more about the black box process by which applications are judged, but more importantly I learned more about myself - my motivations, my goals, my passions - enabling me to write a much more concise and compelling story.

I realized, thanks to the coaching I received, that the application process is much more than a time consuming hurdle or dreaded chore. It can, and should be, an opportunity to reflect, with solitary introspection being important but insufficient in isolation; it was only when I balanced my own reflection with a collaborative exercise involving people I'd known through much of my life, as well as people I'd met only recently, for a more fresh perspective. I ended up getting into my dream program: MIT's MS/MBA, while my wife attended HBS just up the river!

I started applying a holistic coaching mindset while volunteering with the IRC to help refugee entrepreneurs who were starting businesses in the US for the first time. Each refugee I worked with had an incredibly unique world view and a wildly different set of skills. I gave support where I could, but I also encouraged them to find the people in their communities who could complement our perspectives. It is incredibly rewarding to see these businesses come together, built upon support from so many different sources.

I've found the same satisfaction in coaching other school applicants using the same methodology. I've learned a lot about how to put together a good application, and most importantly, I've learned how to effectively elicit support from communities around me. Ultimately, I coach because I enjoy helping applicants tap into these sources of support to dig deeper into who they are, why they want to go to school in the first place, and who they want to become.

Interested in working together on your MBA application? Click here for my Leland coaching profile.

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