I have had a dream run (If I may call it that!) as far as cracking the admissions process is concerned! I have been over the moon ever since I heard the best news from Michigan Ross, Cornell, Tepper, Chicago Booth, NUS, and ISB. An offer of $28,000 as scholarship by Johnson Cornell made everything extra sweet!
Co-Founder, Deneb Automotives
I was employed in the position of a Director at Deneb Automotives Pvt. Ltd. Deneb is a home improvement products manufacturing firm. The position allowed me to explore my true interests (of being an entrepreneur) while challenging my abilities and knowledge in the true sense. Managing an organization that was home to about 1000 employees gave me the right perspective as I began to employ numerous strategies to take the company to higher levels. There were numerous occasions which required strategizing or making decisions which would have a huge impact on the future of the company. While I overcame the challenges flawlessly, there was a tentativeness and hesitation in my decision-making.
I knew I had it in me to learn the tricks of the trade. Signing up for an MBA program would help me get back in the game – better equipped and stronger.
Did I Have it in Me?
I am not going to credit my education alone for bringing this regimen in me. Well, at the risk of sounding boastful I have a number of passions that have contributed to my strong personality. For instance, Photography has long been a passion for me. I pushed hard for a photography club in Indraprastha Institute of Information and Technology or IIIT, Delhi. I was made the founding member of the club and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have been the official photographer for two national sporting events giving me immense confidence in my capabilities. Wikipedia has also featured my photographs in several articles.
Unlike millions of people in India who swear by Cricket, I am one of the few exceptions that follow Golf! Thanks to the sport, a burning desire to excel has become an inane part of me. My achievements in the sport are proof of the same. I was a winner at the Duke of Edinburgh Cup 2018. The trip to Edinburgh; meeting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan) was a memorable event for me! That will be something that I will be talking about for a long time to come.
I had it in me to become a leader. I have been working along multiple lines, to strengthen my profile for a top MBA for a long time. Everything matters. To a top MBA program, everything matters. Right from your international exposure, to community contribution, extra-curriculars, and even your CGPA.
As I worked to bring out a positive change in my thinking and society, I was sharpening my leadership skills as well. My association with the NGO’s- Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Uthaan (NGO’s) contributed to the “feel good” factor. However, I can positively say that it also influenced my leadership style. I learned that change does not happen overnight, and you need to consistently chip away at it to find success!
First step towards a Top MBA
GMAT is certainly the first stage in your journey to finding a place in the best schools. Here, I was given a small yet strong and invigorating burst of energy. My score of 760 was the result of my focus and determination. I knew I had to work harder than most others as studying would only be possible after a long day at work! There were several approaches to attempting the GMAT. But what worked for me to slot out time for dedicated and smart studying. So, sacrificing some sleep; a lot of earnest studying; a methodical approach, and competent guidance lead to a great score.
So, What’s Next?
Doing some homework is inevitable especially when you are beginning the process of applications. This is where I looked closely at my goals and expectations from the MBA program. This process helped in ascertaining the right schools and fit for me as well. With operations as a specialization, I was able to narrow down the list of business schools.
There are a number of ways to approach the admissions process. With a number of variables such as money and other preferences, many prefer to focus on a select few. I differed on that viewpoint as I thought it was best to widen my scope by applying to all the best schools in the world. Having done quite a bit of work in understanding the schools and the programs they offer; I knew I would be ecstatic with positive responses from any of them.
If there was a shortfall in my applications, then it had to be the fact that I did not have experience of working with a brand or a well-known organization. I figured the only way to differentiate my application from the others was to focus on my learnings, experiences, and achievements in and outside my job. Apart from this, I chose to showcase my goals and how I plan to achieve them.
The conundrum of options!
If there is a problem, we would “love” then it must be the one where you have too many choices! That is exactly what I was faced with when I aced the admission process to receive admit calls from Cornell- SC Johnson College of Business, Michigan Ross, Tepper School of Business, Chicago Booth School of Business, NUS (National University of Singapore) and Indian School of Business.
SC Johnson School of Business held a lot of promise with several concentrations such as Entrepreneurship & Innovation; Leadership and Ethics, and Sustainable Global Enterprise being just some of them. Despite the freedom to curate your own concentration and a generous scholarship of USD 28,000, my urge to pursue ‘operations’ prevented me from accepting the offer. NUS in Singapore offered an MBA with a specialization in Operations and Analytics. This may have been right up my alley considering my experience in IT. The Operations Management major at ISB in India also held quite a bit of promise.
Tepper School of Business offers a wonderful program with concentrations such as Operations Research and Operations Management. Some of the biggest operational giants such as Amazon, Toyota, and FedEx are known for the value they create, and this is the kind of experience I was looking for. This may have been possible through Chicago Booth. While Chicago Booth School of Business offered a promising career, what truly attracted me was the program offered by Michigan Ross. Launching a venture of my own using the experience and tools learned here began to seem like a reality than just a possibility. Collaborating on projects sponsored by industry partners would be an ideal way to begin my entrepreneurial journey.
How Top MBA Programs Value Entrepreneurs, Innovation, and Start-Up Experience
The majority of business schools’ applications and admissions committee looks for individuals who have shown leadership ability, whether in their current position or by self-imposed efforts that result in a positive light. Your experience in a startup—even if it has failed or does—could be just what you need to get into some of the world’s best business schools. Leading global institutes push for such diversity, for example, Michigan Ross, Tepper, Cornell, Duke Fuqua, and others, are increasingly placing a premium on startup experience, innovative applicants, and who have entrepreneurial experience. Finding leadership, creativity, risk-taking capacity, and innovation is always a plus point from the perspective of the admission committee. Candidates get wide skill sets as a result of exposure to a variety of organizations, direct learning from CEOs and founders, and early leadership experience.
How did I pick Michigan Ross?
There were quite a few considerations and here the tuition fees played a role where Michigan was the least (Booth-$144,000; Cornell-$135,730; Michigan $132,000(approx.); Tepper-$136,000;). Job placements are a huge factor in picking the right school and the University of Michigan Ross was ranked 1st at 89.3% in the 2018 P&Q Ranking.
There were multiple considerations in mind, including the cost (Michigan provides the same prestige and quality at lower cost as compared to Cornell and Tepper). However, the biggest factor I perused was that Michigan is ranked first in job placements at 89.3% in the P&Q 2018 Ranking.
Deciding to choose Michigan Ross involved a lot of research and consideration, including speaking to multiple current students. Ross students were more approachable and ready to help, and they told me about how the faculty, research centers, and career opportunities. Ross has a focus on action learning that appealed deeply to me, and considering the cost of other MBA programs, Ross was a more cost-effective option too, though this was only a minor factor. The school also seemed to have more alumni in top consulting firms, and I fell in love with Ann Arbor as a city. Ultimately, with multiple admits, the choice was not an easy one, but I believe I made the right decision.
As someone famous once said, “If opportunity does not knock, build a door”. My door says Michigan Ross on it!