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Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

February 06, 2009

Wharton's Director of MBA Admissions & Financial Aid, J.J. Cutler

In January, Wharton announced they had had a new Director of MBA Admissions & Financial Aid, J.J. Cutler. This is what Wharton says about him:

J.J. Cutler is the new Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid. Since 2007, J.J. has been President of Lindi Skin, a start-up offering skin care products specifically designed for people with cancer. In this role, he developed a strategic vision and successfully positioned the Lindi Skin brand, securing national media coverage and expanding the community of healthcare professionals sensitive to the skincare needs of cancer patients. He has served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for ARAMARK Healthcare's North American group and spent seven years in a variety of roles at Johnson & Johnson. Among other responsibilities, he managed over-the-counter brands; oversaw new market development for a variety of chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases; and helped create Canyon Seven, a wellness business developed in partnership with Canyon Ranch Health Resorts. While at Johnson & Johnson, he won the prestigious "Standards of Leadership" award for his work in building an MBA recruiting strategy for Wharton.

J.J. has deep roots in the Penn community. He earned his B.A. in Communications from the College (School of Arts and Sciences) and his MBA in Operations Management and Strategic Management. While at Wharton, he served as a student advisor to the Academic Affairs office and a teaching assistant for the undergraduate Marketing 101 course.

The first "J." stands for Jonathan, by the way. As he entered PENN undergrad in 1989, he is approximately age 38. As you can tell from the above, he has no adcom experience, but is clearly an involved Wharton alum. I think it is very interesting that the Wharton approach was to hire someone without prior admissions experience. It is also interesting that they did not promote someone internally. While I will not predict a shake up in their admissions processes for Fall 2010 yet, I would not be surprised to see one coming. In his (JC) interview with Clear Admit (CA), I found the only interesting part to be the following:

CA: How might the admissions process at Wharton change under your tenure? Do you have any plans to do things differently than your predecessor?

JC: Yes. In the short term we are right in the middle of round two, so nothing is going to change today. And I am just a few weeks into the job, so I think it’s premature to make changes right away.

Longer term, I do think that innovation is a hallmark of Wharton’s curriculum and a hallmark of the way in which we view all of our processes, including admissions and financial aid. Going forward, we will be looking for innovative ways to attract the right candidates, as well as to be innovative in terms of the transparency of our process.

We want to continue to arm prospective applicants with the tools they need to provide us with the best applications they can. To that end, we will continue to providing opportunities for students to come tour our campus, to sit in on classes. And we’ll look for innovative ways to expand on these offerings. And we will also be going out and doing global presentations about Wharton so that applicants around the globe know what we have to offer.

So I do think that there are lots of ways we will continue to be innovative. But in the short term, for rounds two and three of this year, we will continue with the process as it currently exists.

The new director appears to be a manager presently engaged in the process of learning about his organization before taking actions to alter it. Clearly, the time to alter it would be approximately after Round Three results are announced. The rest of the interview, which is worth reading, is basically useful for showing the extent to which J.J. Cutler is just reciting the basics regarding Wharton's processes.

Some more information about his experience can be found in the job announcement for his previous position:

Prior to Lindi Skin, Cutler held the position of Senior Vice President of Marketing for ARAMARK Healthcare. In this role, he led the marketing team, driving its leadership position across the enterprise and innovatively communicating that position to the marketplace.

He earlier worked with Johnson & Johnson in roles with increasing responsibility for several divisions, including: Leading OTC brands at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, including Tylenol([R]) PM, Motrin([R]) IB and Pepcid([R]) AC; and Biologic products at Centocor, including the company's leading product, Remicade, where he led new market development for a variety of chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.

Cutler is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a Senior Scholar of the Department of Health Policy at Jefferson Medical College. He earned his bachelor's degree in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania and his Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and Operations from The Wharton School. Cutler serves on the Board of Directors for the Independence Visitors Center Corporation in Philadelphia.


Questions? Write comments, but do not send me emails asking me to advise you on your application strategy unless you are interested in my consulting services. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see my post on "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant." If you are interested in my interview preparation or other graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

-Adam Markus
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