Why should an Indian mom with kids drop her MBA plans?

Archana Amaragandhi’s review of Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend went viral. She is perfectly capable of writing funny and creative posts.

This isn’t one of them. The provocative tone may make you wonder if you are reading an MBA success story or something else. There’s anger, frustration and rebellion in it.

It’s directed at the patriarchal society that stops married women and mothers like her from pursuing their career aspirations.
 


Why should an Indian mom with kids drop her MBA plans?

by Archana Amaragandhi

 
MBA for Indian Mom with KidsI am 31 years old, married Indian female, on a 2.5 years’ sabbatical, a mother of two children aged 5 and 2. I’ve got an acceptance from Queen’s Smith School of Business, Canada. Do I have your attention now?

If you are widening your eyes and raising your eyebrows in surprise, that’s exactly what is wrong with our society. There is no need to get surprised when a woman of my social profile gets an admit in one of the prestigious B-schools of Canada.

By exclaiming, even if only a congratulatory exclamation, you are making me an exception.

Every deserving man or woman should be able to reach his or her dreams without being type-cast. That should be the norm.

If it still is an exception, then accepting it is not going to change anything. Rebelling against it will.

So, hold that surprise and ask for relevant information which got me into the school. It definitely was not luck. What else then? Listen up!

I am a blogger for ten years and a software engineer with a good academic track record, decent enough GMAT, solid work experience before the sabbatical and lots of life experiences.

The reason I was able to make it was simply because I never ceased to be what I was when more roles and responsibilities were entrusted on me. I never gave up when our patriarchal society made unreasonable demands.

Instead of reacting, I started concentrating more. I expanded myself to accommodate life’s changes and charted out a plan to do the juggling act 24 X 7 for the last 6 years (since the birth of my elder child). All this so that I could get to this point in my life, my much aspired post-graduate education in a renowned institution.

When people asked me, “Why were you not working after your second child and sitting at home idle?” or when people looked down upon me with sympathy and signed my career off for good, I chose to not let their words pull me down. I hadn’t given up. I was only gearing up.

I was working, of course, just that I didn’t go to an office in the last two years.

I was working on having my children and raising them without compromise. I was working on my blog and a writing mentorship program. I was working on my son’s ABCs. I was working on the stock market, making little gains through intra-day trading. I was working on my daughter’s teething trouble. I was working on my GMAT preparation and I was working on my MBA application. I was working on all of this in parallel.

I could do all of that simply because I didn’t bother to stop by and explain myself to people who were busy judging me. They just didn’t know because I just didn’t show. I smiled and moved on with the next item in my list for that day, that hour. I knew that when my efforts pay, they will know. I guess it has paid and now they do, don’t they?

There is no super human effort here. All it takes is careful planning, time management and most of all, a strong will and determination.

Part of my pre-MBA training had started when I got married and had to deal with many new people with new demands. With the kids coming along, the training just intensified.

While my job as a software engineer, gave me the technical and project management skills, all my soft skills come from family and parenting.

An impulsive person like me has seen the heights of patience. A pushover like me has learnt to negotiate. Trust me, one can negotiate the toughest of deals but try negotiating with your 2-year-old into eating the vegetables, you’ll understand what I mean.

Do I sound like boasting? If not, please allow me to admit that I am of course boasting. One hundred percent, no doubt! And you know why? Because, I deserve it. I want to say that out aloud to those, let’s say, entities that posed hurdles every step along the way.

If anything, I am thankful to them for helping me to persevere in the face of challenges and boost my confidence after conquering them.

As for advice on the application process, GMAT is important but that is just one-third of the application. A good GMAT alone doesn’t help one in getting into good B-schools. An all-round personality is the best bet. And that’s not just for getting into B-schools but for the post-MBA career goals too.

When I short-listed B-schools after my GMAT, I asked myself what my future goals were and Canadian schools seemed like the best place for me to realise my aspirations. That helped me filter out B-schools and narrow down my selection.

A little research from the schools’ websites and forums and talks with the alumni helped me to zero-in on one. Once the decision was made, all I had to do was focus on it and put forward my best possible self with confidence.

As for the essays, I wrote them as honestly as I could without too many superlatives. Only then could the school analyse whether I am a good fit while I could see whether I’ve made the right decision.

There is no point in projecting ourselves as someone we are not, impressing and end up disappointing the school and ourselves when we are actually into the program.

I really didn’t apply to multiple schools, simply because I didn’t have the bandwidth in terms of time and money to apply to every school when I would ultimately join only one. I wanted to get into Queen’s and I got into Queen’s. As simple as that.

My acceptance letter came in early July and since then I’ve been working on my loans and visas and most of all in getting the family ready for a rocky bumpy ride from January 2016, when I will officially go to Queen’s Smith School of business.

With all that done and another few days to go before I fly to Kingston, I still feel like this is just another beginning. I have a long way to go before I can achieve what I’ve promised myself.

Until then, let me move on with my life, making lists and ticking them off one by one. When I hit another milestone, believe me, you will know.

 
Read these related stories:
Choosing between being a careerwoman or a housewife and mother
How business schools are attracting female MBA applicants.


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7 Comments

  1. Sonali says:

    Honestly,
    I can’t express my happiness for you! Sounds strange and very filmy but am really happy for you and as you have shown me the path and mindset is what really matters if one truly sets their goal.
    Wishing you a wonderful journey :).

    Truly inspiring. My kid is just 1yr old and I have been pondering over too many ‘what ifs’ instead of actually doing something about the things and goals I have.
    I will tell myself, one step at a time, and yes, a strong will and dedication is what we need.

    Thanks Archana and wishing you many such achievements in future!

    Regards,
    Sonali.

  2. Udita says:

    Women like you continue to inspire. Good luck to you and your family, have a lot of fun in Canada. Work hard, and wrap up cozy!

  3. Irin says:

    I definitely would keep a bookmark of this page.. to read now and then.. to get inspired. .to motivate self.. to be aware that where there is a will there is a way..
    Thanks for being so inspiring. . Wish u good luck :)

  4. Kalpesh says:

    HI Archana,

    You have a great story and you are the ‘Queen’ example of millions of Indian women !

    My wife Hetal is probably in similar situation and i am sure there are so many other Indian women in similar boat. She is currently toying with idea of doing an MBA after a break of 4 years from work. Good luck. I hope your story reaches to as many as possible, they can drive real passion from it. I will do my best to spread the love.

    Regards

    -Kalpesh

  5. Hetal says:

    Hi Archana

    Your article is a true inspiration. And as Irin said i am going to bookmark this article, so i can read it now and then to give a boost and confidence in pursuing my dreams, my passion. Good luck and keep inspiring.

    Regards
    -Hetal

  6. monica says:

    Hello Sameer,

    My name is Monica. I am a textile engineer, 2002 batch pass out. I have been working into garments industry for past 12 yrs (first in exports as merchandisers and then in US based liasion offices) taken a break for about 1 yr in between during my first child.
    I am a mother of 2 daughters now ..4yrs and 2 yrs old.
    I left my last assignment just 6 months back.
    Now with responsibility of 2 kids , i dont want to work full time but my field does not give any option of part time work or work from home.
    I am quite ambitious and even ready to change my field if that can help me …
    I feel i am a great worker and can really do a good job even as a part time worker.
    can you pls advise me
    a)if it is suitable for me to opt for a different career path.’
    b)If yes, what it could be so i can manage my family and job well?

    thanks for all your help.

    • Sameer Kamat says:

      @Monica: You can surely try a different carer path. With your qualifications and experience, you have already proved your mettle in one field. And there’s no doubt that you’ve developed valuable skills over that time frame that allow you to venture into new avenues.

      So, don’t get discouraged by what employers say. Most of them have stringent HR policies and inflexible mindsets.

      If that route hasn’t worked for you, there are several other ideas that you can think about where you can work part-time and define your own terms and conditions of working. For starters, how about entrepreneurship that will satisfy both the criteria?

      See if any of these options look interesting: http://www.mbacrystalball.com/blog/2014/12/15/10-small-business-ideas-indian-men-women/

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