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ISB Hyderabad Reapplicant’s strategy
Written by Sameer Kamat
ISB Hyderabad reapplicants face a tough situation. Compared to first time applicants, reapplicants to ISB Hyderabad have the additional burden of justifying how their current application is much better than their previous one.
Madhur Chadha has gone through the experience and he has been accepted by ISB Hyderabad as well as IIMC. Read on to see what went wrong in his first attempt and how he fixed the shortcomings in his reapplication to ISB.
Trivia: Madhur’s photograph was taken, not after he got the good news from ISB Hyderabad and IIMC, but after he had just completed 600 miles of a 3600-mile cross-country trip, almost non stop.
ISB reapplicant Madhur Chadha’s strategy
About me: A software engineer by profession and a poet, voice over artist and a satirist by passion. I worked in the software space for over 5 years (2 in India and 3 in the US) and played multiple roles such as development lead, business analyst and consultant.
Though I always wanted to do an MBA ,the real push came when I went to US and started interacting with business teams. I was a portals subject matter expert (SME) and helped large corporations design and develop Intranets. The more closer I got to business, more hooked I became to the idea of a formal business education. I wanted to move from a pure technical to more of consultation role where I could make contributions at a much larger scale.
(PS: I was also good at using MBA jargon such as paradigm shift, proactive, reactive :P)
My interactions with various techno consultants, who also were MBAs, left me impressed with their way of thinking. On a parallel track I also became intrigued with the concept of communications in large organizations and was contemplating an entrepreneurship venture in the field.
An education in business fundamentals fit perfectly in my plans.
Regarding my GMAT:
I did not take any coaching at all. My main strategy was getting my fundamentals right and adjusting my speed.I studied from the GMAT Oficial Guides and some borrowed books of Manhattan GMAT. I did not take any test series for my first attempt, only took a few free tests available online, and this proved costly.
In my first attempt, though I breezed through GMAT quant, I lost my cool in GMAT verbal and panicked. I was short of time and was forced to answer last 5-7 questions without even reading. As expected my score was below 700 and I was unable to make it to ISB (the only school I applied to).
For my second attempt, the only things that I did were as follows:
1. Took an online test series
2. Worked on my speed: I worked on creating milestones. For example, in the first 20 minutes I should be done with 10 questions.
3. Practiced like crazy: I practiced my speed and timing like a mad man. Lost count of number of papers I gave
4.Adjusted my body clock according to my paper timings: My GMAT was around noon. I usually had lunch at that time and am generally slow. I started having early lunch and made sure I did some mentally stimulating work at noon. I even avoided coffee and tea to reduce my dependence on them.
All these things worked and I was able to score pretty well .
This time around I applied ISB, IIMA PGPX (1 year MBA in IIM Ahmedabad) and IIMC (1 Year MBA in Kolkata). Against better advice from friends and well wishers I did not apply to any foreign colleges as I wanted to do my MBA in India and had my heart set out for ISB since many years.
Filling up applications, though time consuming was not too tough. I had a good network of people who could help me with my essays and recommendation. The main idea about essays is that they make you think and contemplate. You need to dig out stories and events from your present and your past.
I was pleasantly surprised that I did not have to try too hard for content. I had played crucial roles in my projects, had won various awards, was working with many NGOs for more than 5 years and had good extra curricular in school and college. My love for blogging, youtube and poetry and the fact that I released my poetry single on itunes and various music sites added a cherry on the top.
I was shortlisted for interview at ISB and IIM C.
IIM C interview was more of rapid fire interview (I felt so), where the interviewers seemed to be rushing and switching topics randomly. Their questions were not really related to me or MBA but more towards gauging general analytical abilities. I was asked to speak for the motion on some topic and defend a position.
ISB was much more relaxed and the questions were very much related to me and my application. Why I wanted an MBA and what kind of work I had done in the past. To be frank it seemed they were helping me build and find my answers. Their main focus was to find out if I had really thought through or not .
Finally I received an offer from both the schools. It was a pretty tough decision because I have grown up admiring the IIMs. I have seen how the entire neighborhood takes pride when anyone from their locality got into IIM. An IIM degree was a matter of pride and prestige.
ISB on the other hand though equally good was just 10 years old. But since I started seriously thinking about an MBA I had admired ISB. ISB hyderabad campus is located just across the road from Infosys Hyderabad. I stayed in Infosys Hyderabad for 4 months and every time I walked through the gates of Infosys I admired ISB and wanted to walk through its gates. I still remember the moment when I saw ISB gates for the first time.
After enough deliberation, discussions and soul searching I decided to join ISB. Nevertheless I now have a story to tell my kids and grand-kids on how I said no to IIM
At the moment I am waiting to join ISB in April. I have taken 1 year study leave and am spending my days relaxing, blogging, writing poetry and working as a part-time Radio Jockey.
An advice to re-applicants:
If you are rejected by a school, before applying again make sure you ask them for a feedback. It helps you focus. Though I was not even shortlisted for an interview with ISB on my first attempt, they were kind enough to give me a proper telephonic feedback of my application. I made sure I made up for it in my second attempt.
My Blog @ Mr Unreasonable
Wondering if Madhur forgot to mention what his second attempt GMAT score was? Nope, it’s intentional. He did share the score offline with me. Another fact he shared was that his good friend who had applied to ISB with a 760 GMAT score got rejected.
For this post, Madhur felt, specifying the number would unduly put the focus on GMAT and hide the fact that a good profile and a clear cut idea of what you want is much more important than the GMAT score. Respect!