The topic of average GMAT score for ISB Hyderabad (Indian School of Business) gets discussed a lot. We published an article about an MBA applicant who got into ISB with a low GMAT score of 610.
This time we consider another aspect of GMAT scores i.e. the limited utility of a high GMAT score.
Ritesh had an impressive GMAT score of 760. You’d think such a score would make life easy for any MBA applicant at any of the top b-schools.
Far from it, as Ritesh got rejected twice. So what was it that finally got him an admit and a scholarship from the same bschool that had rejected him twice?
My name is Ritesh Chopra, I did my under-graduation in Computer Engineering and have been working with IBM since 2005. My MBA journey started like many other Indian MBA aspirants with CAT preparations. Lot of my friends were writing CAT and I knew I had potential to crack CAT, so I also started preparing.
I didn’t know why I wanted to do MBA. What career opportunities are available post MBA… or what I wanted to do with my life. The only thing that I was sure of was, if I have to get an MBA I have to get an MBA from a top school. That was also because I was having a wonderful time at my job at IBM.
Unfortunately, in my two attempts I could manage 97.6 and 98.1 perecentile which meant no ABC calls (i.e. from IIM IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore or IIM Calcutta). Fortunately, I got an onsite opportunity at IBM, which provided me great international exposure and wonderful client side experience. At this point I had 2-3 years of experience and I was in US, so I thought let’s try GMAT.
I got a score of 760 on my first attempt. Couldn’t have asked for more :) or may be i could have :P. With some good experince, international exposure and a 760 GMAT, I thought I am Harvard & Stanford material now. May be, I was.
The only problem though was I wasn’t still clear why I wanted an MBA? Did I really want to spend that much rokda on my MBA? Did I want to spend the rest of my life in USA or India? Well, to hell with those questions I said ;), I have a score and it should be ok. Apna ISB to ho hi rakha hai, will apply there also. Will see later ke jaana hai ke nahi.
But as I started writing MBA essays, it became more and more evident that my story was not clear, even to me. And the colleges obviously saw that as well, some in my essays and others in my interviews. The life became busier after that – some medical issues in family, came back to India, went to Germany, came back to India, marriage, went back to US etc etc…you get the idea.
Then came attempt #2 i.e last year.
This time I had much better idea of my goals, my career aspirations and what schools I wanted to apply to and not simply I want to apply to top 5 colleges in this/that ratings. I was clear that I wanted to work on a technology startup in India.
For this reason, and that i had already been rejected once, I had much more respect for ISB now. But for the same reason, I wasn’t sure if U.S. MBA was right for me or not. Still I was in the US, doing well financially so I thought I would give MIT Sloan, Haas Berkeley and Ross a try as well.
After some initial discussions, I signed up with MBA Crystal Ball, and our long journey of edits/revisits began. I really like MG and Sameer because of they are more like buddies and they believe in you. And I think that is what you need to help you in the MBA journey.
I have bugged them with stupid questons – like I was checking the profiles of the students and they are intimidating and all. But they always heard my queries patiently and answered genuinely. Despite a lot of things going right, all I could manage was an ISB wailist, thanks to a pretty messed-up interview.
Attempt #3 –
I had come back to India in July 2012 after having had enough of US, so going back was not an option in my mind. ISB was my only MBA option (IIMs don’t accept GMATs older than 3 years). When I applied this time, I had already participated in a Startup Weekend and the ISB iDiya competition.
I had half made my mind up on applying to an incubator/accelerator program and was infact leaning more towards that option than going for an MBA. I still thought since this is the last year of my score, I will give it a try, only applying to ISB though.
Happy with the last year’s services, I went back to MCB folks. Another good thing that happened was these guys themselves suggested me to go for a cheaper essays package, as we had pretty detailed reviews and discussions last year itself.
Honestly, they could have asked me to get a comprehensive package, and I would have taken that as well, because this is a time where candidates would anything that could improve their chances for entry even slightly. This goes to speak itself about their values and work ethics.
Anyways, with two quick rounds of edits and the video essay, I was able to submit my application in under a week.
Not sure, if it was because I had a backup option in my mind or the meditation I had been doing, I was much more relaxed and confident in the interview this time. The interview was mostly around my business venture, the idea, the business model, my transition from tech role etc. The clarity in goals, and the amount of thought that had gone behind why MBA, why now and why ISB, finally showed in my responses.
And the result was that I was not just able to make it to the class of 2014, but also get 5 Lakh Rupees of merit based fee-waiver. Wooohooooo!
Advice for Indian MBA aspirants –
I would like to advice Indian MBA aspirants to do a lot of introspection and decide what they want to do. Decide where you want to be and then take the call whether MBA fits in your plans or not.
Don’t be a part of rat race or do it because people around you are doing it. These days lot of new careers have emerged which were not available even a few years ago. People are making photography their career and making a decent living out of it. Technical careers are paying very well and offering competitive salaries.
Secondly, don’t short sell yourself. Believe in yourself. Believe that you can do it. If I could do it, you sure can.
Lastly, keep trying. Persevere. Never give up. You never know how close to success you are to the success.
As a re-applicant, the ISB scholarship that Ritesh got in his third attempt shows that the potential was always there in his profile. But it took three years to discover and present it.
If you are targetting any of the competitive MBA programs, go beyond the superficial categorisations (like IT – Male – Engineer with a high GMAT score) and start looking at your profile the way Admission Officers would. It takes time to discover the Wow element. So, start now.