Why I Coach—Kathryn Larin

Kathryn L., an expert Leland coach and LBS MBA, outlines why she chooses to coach and what it means to her.

Kathryn L.

By Kathryn L.

Posted August 22, 2022

On a rainy summer day, I decided to quit my investment banking job to focus on my MBA dream. The plan was simple. Move to Switzerland, spend the summer in the beautiful Swiss countryside studying for the GMAT and reflecting on my future career plans. Perfectly timed for all the prep to be wrapped up by round 1 deadlines. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. It was disappointment after disappointment. GMAT was my biggest nemesis that I battled on a daily basis. No matter how hard I tried, exam nerves always seemed to get the best of me. I kept scoring below the GMAT threshold for my desired schools. I started to wonder, was my MBA dream out of reach?

After sitting the GMAT seven times and taking six months out of the workforce, I decided that the growing gap on the CV wasn’t helping matters. Off I went to yet another corporate finance job. Walking down the grey pavements every morning, surrounded by the mass herd of commuters, I wondered, is this it? Am I really going to let one obstacle stand in the way of getting to Business School?

I decided it was time to pull myself out of the gloom and innovate. Yes, I wasn’t a natural test taker but that was only one aspect of the admissions criteria. I changed tact, focusing on what I did best - relationship building. I hustled for introductions to Business School alumni from my target schools, trying to get every slither of advice I could. I listened intently to each one of their stories, understanding how they positioned themselves and how they leveraged all that Business School had to offer. I started to understand the dynamics of campus life at all my target schools - the best rated courses, most notable treks, flagship club events. I saw an opportunity with the Women in Business club at London Business School. They were short of panel speakers for their flagship conference. I offered to help since diversity and inclusion is something I feel very passionate about. In the end, I secured the committee the additional speakers they were looking for and got a free ticket to the event, typically reserved for students. During the event, I met even more students from my target schools that offered to act as sounding boards to my story and application woes.

I started to see that helping and giving something to my target schools was greatly valued by the community. I secured 3 additional recommendations from current students, on top of the 2 required references.

I was a round 4 applicant with below average GMAT score. Many told me it was near impossible to get into a top Business School in round 4. Nonetheless, I decided to persevere- I had come this far, why turn back? The alumni that interviewed me told me on the spot that I was more fluent in the school jargon than anyone else she had interviewed.

To my surprise, I got an offer within 2 weeks of applying!

I had an 18 month ordeal to get into my top school with many twists and turns. If only I had a trusted coach to guide me through the process, it would have saved me so much time and anxiety. I’m passionate about helping candidates realise their true potential. Going to Business School can be a difficult personal and career decision to make. But it doesn’t have to be a lonely process. Working with the right coach can be a powerful exercise of self discovery and confidence boost. I found my purpose by going to Business School, can I help you find yours?

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

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