You may have read why differentiation is a big problem for Indian MBA applicants. Coneenika Choudhuri chose to tackle the challenge in style.
While other applicants grappled with their profiles to show a spike,
What helped Coneenika go full-throttle, was inspiration from her bike.
With MBA applications focussed on the when, the how and the why
Coneenika’s strategy was to bang doors, write a poem & wear a tie.
When I was reading the MCB blogs for the first time in April last year, never could I imagine I would be invited to write one soon! But, here, I am, today, honoured to be invited to write my very own blog!
Rewind to September 2012. My MBA journey started in the third-year of my engineering studies with the rush to bell the CAT, to get a chance to enter the coveted IIMs.
Like my fellow batch mates, I, too, buried myself in heavy CAT books and tried solving questions with acquired ease. The oft-repeated question of why MBA never struck me back then. Wasn’t everybody running after a MBA degree?
Well, I didn’t want to be left behind. Without any aim or meaning, I appeared for exams of almost all the MBA colleges back then.
But, then it began to dawn on me, why would the corporates be interested in college-going kids anyway?
Armed with a ‘core’ job offer from the automation sector, I am delighted I did not give in to the mad rat race back then and instead chose to equip myself with a solid work experience, instead.
At work, I wanted to make the most of my experience at Titan Automations. Having been selected in the R&D Division, I was delighted to be the youngest member chosen to represent Titan at the World of Industry India (WIN) India-2014, a premier industrial automation fair organized by Hannover Messe.
None other than the Director of Automation Industry Association (AIA) accompanied by my organisation’s VP spotted me while I was being interviewed by news channels at the event and subsequently invited me to deliver a lecture at (hold your breath) IIT, Delhi! I was literally in the seventh heaven on that day.
After my repeated failures to bell the CAT, I was encouraged by Byju’s Classes to look up GMAT as an alternative.
I had always thought of GMAT as the exam rich kids wrote for going to universities abroad but after few hours spent in research, I cursed myself of having been blind to the most structured global standardized MBA entrance examination that actually opened many doors.
Having enrolled in Byju’s for my GMAT preparation, I knew I had to put together a comprehensive profile that would define me as a most promising candidate.
While putting together my profile, I began to discover my own story of – why MBA – the oft-repeated question in every B-school application.
I wanted to make a greater impact in my career, appreciate a holistic perspective to business and use my skills to make a difference to people’s lives. So, an MBA in healthcare was what I looked out for.
I knew an MBA abroad would cost significantly and desperately needed a scholarship to fund my education.
Browsing through the internet for professional advice, I came across MCB and read on about how two passionate individuals – Sameer Kamat and Manish Gupta – helped weave magic into MBA candidates’ stories.
What clearly set MCB apart was the huge number of testimonials on their website, each with a different experience, bound by a common thread. I picked up quite a number of tips on how to fund the B school application process as well.
Without further ado, I decided to go ahead with MCB as my preferred consultant for my post GMAT journey.
I still remember how absolutely delighted I was at their openness to genuinely assist MBA candidates on each email (more than a 100) I wrote to them. The one thing I was completely sure of was: these guys could be trusted to deliver.
With two years of experience, I wrote the GMAT twice in August and September 2015 securing 690 and 710 respectively, with Manish Sir’s timely advice for a retake. He has been with me throughout my GMAT journey as well, even before we started talking money. That totally floored me!
After having shortlisted almost a dozen of universities, I knew I could not afford professional advice for all of them. The college that meant the most to me was ISB as a) it was in India, which is set to be the global superpower and b) no Indian college, to my knowledge, delivers a more global education than ISB persists to.
Here, again I settled for Manish Sir’s advice to go for the essay package for ISB. I opted for their Basic Essay package.
After receiving my first review of essays, I can vouch for the amount of efforts the MCB team puts behind each essay. There was not a single punctuation mark which has not been thoroughly lifted, shaken off cobwebs and polished to shine. I was so eternally grateful for the edits.
For the second review the number of words in my essays was practically halved, which would have required humongous efforts. I could not be happier to see my essays finally taking shape.
Just before the submission though, I wanted to know whether I could submit a poem (I won an award in poetry, folks!) on my bike (I am an amateur biker, too!) instead of my optional essay.
Not only did MG Sir consent, he was accommodative enough to help me review my poem. Finally, I submitted my essays, and held my breath.
While I was attending interviews of the other universities, Manish Sir was candid enough to suggest me to reserve the Interview Package for ISB. He seemed to be more confident than I was in getting the interview call. But, when it did come, I was elated!
I immediately opted for the Interview preparation service and was sent the most comprehensive profile based interview questions possible. As I completed the mock sessions with Praveen Sir, this time, I began to actually feel more confident of acing the actual interview.
On the night before the ISB interview, I received a mail from the Wisconsin School of Business, Madison awarding me a full tuition waiver for their MBA course. I could not sleep the entire night due to the excitement.
A thing I particularly remember about the ISB interview was that I banged the door (albeit, unintentionally!) as soon as I walked in!
My interviewers smiled pleasantly completely oblivious to the ruckus I raised and made me instantly comfortable.
What followed for the remaining 30 minutes was a freewheeling conversation on bikes, my experiences with being the youngest member at the WIN India and of delivering a lecture at IIT, besides a couple of guesstimates.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in there and kept my fingers crossed.
When the ISB results finally came out, I was hooked to pagalguy for updates and did not receive any notification until the next half an hour. The wait was agonizing but totally worth it!
I profusely thanked everyone for all their assistance and most of all, MCB.
I was again in a conundrum as to which school I should choose from among the offers I had back then: especially between the fully-funded US MBA and the prohibitively expensive ISB.
But, given ISB’s quality of education, industry exposure, mammoth size of alumni-parameters which rank it higher than the former made the decision a no-brainer.
Besides, label me as a die-hard patriotic, I will be happier working in Indian businesses as opposed to US ones.
Also, notwithstanding the back-breaking curriculum, being at ISB will help you get back in the workforce in a year, resulting in a higher ROI.
I had always tried to make the best of my time be it at school, college or my workplace, where I had taken a flurry of initiatives: paperless indenting, streamlining business process, bringing in lean management, proposing to start a Toastmasters club, volunteering in CSR etc. to name a few.
I would advise all future MBA candidates to make the best use of their work experience, top it up with suitable extra-curriculars and strive to create a most convincing profile.
Peep inside of you and look at what differentiates you from the candidate pool. Each one of us has our own talents and in trying to blend in, we lose our true selves.
So, let’s not try to blend in anymore. Let us instead stand out and bask in our differences.
Case in point: I was the only girl wearing a tie to the ISB interview!