Getting You Into Your Dream School: Chioma Isiadinso
Gaining admission into an elite MBA program or top-ranked college is a highly competitive process. Differentiating oneself to stand out from all the applicants is no easy feat. That’s where the services of Expartus, an admissions consulting company headed by CEO Chioma Isiadinso, can give a prospective student that winning edge. Chioma, 36, Co-Founded Expartus after working for Harvard Business School’s MBA admissions board. Her company uses personal branding to help clients market themselves effectively to their most desired programs. Admissions advisors and brand strategists provide personalized services, helping each client with the unique challenges and concerns he or she faces. In addition to providing individual consulting services, Expartus also conducts seminars and workshops, including its new “Brand Your Way to an MBA” workshop. To learn more about how Chioma and Expartus are helping students get into their dream schools, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile.
CEO Expartus, LLC
New York, New York
University of Pittsburgh
Master of Education, Specialization in Cross Cultural Counseling
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Bachelor of Arts, Honors
Harvard Business School
Assistant Director of Admissions
Carnegie Mellon University
The School of Public Policy and Management, Director of Admissions
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon Action Project Associate/Adviser
About the company
EXPARTUS is an admissions consulting and personal branding company based in New York City. I co-founded EXPARTUS in 2002 after working for the MBA Admissions Board at Harvard Business School. EXPARTUS works with clients from all over the world including over 25 countries to date. Elite MBA programs accept only 10% of the applicant pool. EXPARTUS capitalizes on our unique advantage of having been on admissions boards and understanding the unique way admissions people think and how candidates can differentiate themselves to stand out in the competitive applicant pool. The result is over 90% admissions success rate for clients who are admitted to their top schools.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
My day to day responsibilities are creating the strategic vision for EXPARTUS, hiring and training of admissions and brand advisers, conducting business development and marketing of the firm, conducting seminars/workshops, speaking engagements at corporations, schools, and nonprofits, and of course working one on one with clients applying to top tier colleges and business schools.
Most notable milestones
Launching of MBA workshops for clients who desire to brand themselves in the application process. We have also expanded our staff to better accommodate growing client needs.
What’s the niche?
We are the only admissions consulting company that focuses on personal branding. We are also very selective and take a finite number of clients every year to ensure that we maintain a highly personalized service that is grounded in excellence and commitment to our clients.
What’s the biggest challenge?
As with many businesses, there is often the pressure to expand too quickly to meet the growing client pool. We have maintained a steady growth on purpose to ensure that the high caliber of services that our clients expect from EXPARTUS is not watered down as we expand.
The MBA application process is highly stressful and with many applicants crunched for time, one challenge we face is helping applicants to get a head start in the application process. This is precisely why we have launched the “Brand Your Way to an MBA” workshop this year.
What’s in store for the future?
Publishing the admissions book.
Launching international workshops in key markets.
Best way to keep a competitive edge
Read a lot. Commit to excellence. Be generous (help people and give back – it always comes back to you). Have people around you who will challenge and push you towards greater success. Have fun in the process.
Guiding principle in life
Live your passion. Take the time to see if you are on the path you really wish for your life. Have the courage to change things if you are not living your passion. And finally, make an impact. It doesn’t matter what. It can be on someone or an organization. It could even be simply taking an idea and bringing it to life. Whatever it may be, make the commitment to make a difference where ever you are in your life.
Yardstick of success
Am I making a difference? Do I still love what I do?
Goal yet to be achieved
Starting an orphanage in Africa.
Best practical advice
Do not be afraid of failure. Fear of failure is one of the greatest cause of failure (you don’t try at all).
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
“Think Big. You will get Big results…”
Dr Gloria Hill – taught me the fundamentals of how to manage people.
Obinna Isiadinso (husband) – completely fearless, huge supporter and innovator who has taught me that if I can picture it, I can make it a reality.
What motivated you to get started?
A combination of doing a lot of introspection to figure out what my passion was and a supportive husband who is an entrepreneur and an MBA.
Like best about what you do?
I absolutely love working with clients from all over the world. I love the ability to take someone from a place of very little awareness and help them discover and embrace their personal brand as they go through the application process.
Like least about what you do?
The day to day operational aspects of running a business (accounting/budgeting, marketing).
Some people would argue that education is not as important nowadays because of the abilites of current technology. Would you agree or disagree?
I do believe that technology has transformed the way we learn and made information an easier commodity to access/share. However, I still feel that education can be empowering and can level the playing field tremendously. For example, the applicant from a small farm town gets into Harvard, does well academically, is recruited by many of the international consulting shops, gets global exposure, next thing you know he/she is able to draw from a powerful network to build a multi-million company. Could they have done it without the education? Perhaps. But the elite education helped them get their faster!
How can young people today help close the educational gap affecting America’s youth in low-income areas?
One straightforward way is through volunteering. There are a lot of programs that are designed to help bring access and exposure to young people to prepare them for top schools. Sponsors for Educational Opportunities closes the education gap by working with high school students through their Scholars Program to take bright minority students and giving them the same training and preparation many of their counterparts receive in private schools. This program enables hundreds of disadvantaged kids get admission to elite schools across the nation.
With the rise of entrepreneurship in today’s youth, do you think education is more or less important?
I still believe education is the foundation. My philosophy is that they are not mutually exclusive. You can do both.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an actress when I was younger. I found the theater to be an exciting outlet. Since I have always been creative and enjoyed being in charge, I thought I would perhaps become a director in the long term. But then I moved to the U.S., discovered Psychology and fell in love!
What was your first job?
My first job was as an adviser to undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon. My focus was to ensure academic success for my students and served as a counselor, coach, and mentor to numerous students.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Education, fashion and my faith are three core areas were I invest in my personal life. I engage in pro bono speaking engagements targeting inner city schools and mentor young people on the importance of investing in their education. I attend a church in the heart of Times Square where I get my spiritual foundation. On the fashion front, especially from my modeling days, I enjoy personal shopping for friends and volunteering for Dress for Success, an organization that provides free professional clothing to disadvantaged women going into the work force.
Person most interested in meeting?
Toyin Subair. He is a successful Nigerian businessman whose passion for helping the under-served led him to create Link a Child, a program that focuses on giving visibility to the plight of Nigerian orphanages across the country. I’m interested in meeting him because one of my long term dreams would be to be involved in investing and building quality orphanages in Africa.
Leader in business most interested in meeting?
Oprah. I selected her for several reasons. First, she is someone who operates by integrity. Second, I believe it is critical to live one’s passion. Oprah is a business woman who has followed her dreams and passions and built a business around them. I have applied this philosophy to my life by building a business around my passion: using education to empower lives. Finally I plan to start an education-oriented project in Africa, something that will target orphans in Nigeria and I’m inspired by Oprah’s incredible generosity in investing multi-million dollars in a leadership academy for girls in South Africa.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I’m a new mom.
- I speak Igbo fluently.
- I’m an author.
Three characteristics that describe you
- Natural Leader
Three greatest passions
- My Christian Faith
- Empowering young people
“The Brand Called You” by Peter Montoya
“Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie
“Great Expectations” bu Charles Dickens
Dress for Success
Sponsors for Educational Opportunities
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Prospective MBA candidates as well as parents of high school students who are interested in attending an elite university or colleges.
Corporations and schools (student clubs) interested in bringing Expartus to speak to their employees and students.
Interview by Elisha Greenwell
Introduction by Preeti Aroon
Edited by Valerie Enriquez