If you look at the class profile statistics for ISB Hyderabad, you’ll find an average GMAT score that’s among the highest across all international B-schools. No wonder then that folks get enamoured with that one parameter and put all their energies into getting the highest GMAT score possible.
Sudhir Nemani tried twice to crack the GMAT, and ended up with GMAT scores of 600 and 610. As a senior professional in the investment banking industry, he had worked on a wide variety of Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) transactions – managing all responsibilities including valuations, business modeling, negotiations, post merger integration and much more. His profile was solid. But the GMAT score was bringing the morale down.
What would you do if you had your eyes set on the Indian School of Business (ISB Hyderabad) and your GMAT score was more than a 100 points below the average GMAT score for ISB?
The first time I thought about doing an MBA was in Jan 2005-a thought that took more than 8 years to materialize! A lot has happened in my life during this time – Professional success, CAT/GMAT failures, globetrotting, marriage and applications. In that order!!
As it is with all MBA aspirants in India, I too decided to ‘bell the CAT’. Considering the huge competition we face in our country, my not so bad 98.6 percentile score proved not so good at fetching GD/PI calls from premium B schools. Soon enough, I decided to spend time on building my career and thereafter pursue an MBA with work experience and clear goals.
March, 2008 I decided to give a shot at GMAT. I quickly registered myself with a popular MBA forum and thence began my GMAT saga. After spending 3 long months, giving numerous mock tests, I booked my 3.5 hours date with GMAT. In hindsight, the first couple of hours of our date were enjoyable and then we were mutually disinterested. The end result a glass shattering 600 – Q48 V25. A huge set back to my MBA dream.
It was the peak of global meltdown and my bank decided to downsize the workforce. Fortunately or unfortunately I got a forced break for 3 months. I did a lot of self introspection on whether to apply to colleges with the existing score or write GMAT again or find a new job. I decided to move on with a new job, I guess survival was of foremost importance back then.
However, the MBA bug that bit me hadn’t left me yet. I spent the next couple of years consolidating my professional life, getting married and accepted new responsibility outside India.
It was then that one day I just picked up the phone and narrated the whole journey to Sameer Kamat.
We both knew that I had a good chance to make a cut at a Top school with a decent GMAT- my biggest nemesis. Soon I decided to give my final shot at GMAT. With 2 months of not so grueling preparation I managed at 10 point increase – a disappointing 610.
Sameer and I discussed options, and he advised that since I have a strong academic and professional background, I must go ahead armed with a sincere and effective application and that GMAT score must not stop me from applying.
In March 2012, I relocated to India and soon after settling down in my new role, I began the process of shortlisting B-schools based on fitment. I knew I was neither a typical US MBA candidate with professional experience of 8 years coupled with family and age nor was I keen on struggling in UK/EU zone. The idea of re-paying a Euro loan while earning in an ever depreciating rupee made no sense.
Regarding my chances at Indian B-schools, I spoke to a few consultants, current students and alums, who were all very helpful, but not hopeful about my making it through at Indian B-schools considering the high average GMAT scores at these schools.
However, through discussions with some of the alma-mater, and through the admission committee open forums and chats, I learnt that professional experience and education are valued highly at top schools and GMAT is not the only criteria. So, banking on the strength of my vast, varied experience and a strong profile which strongly puts forth my candidature for MBA, I took the plunge and applied to ISB Hyderabad, IIM Bangalore (IIMB EPGP), IIM Calcutta (IIMC PGPex) and XLRI GMP.
I spent 3 months on my IIMB, IIMC and ISB applications, ensuring I didn’t miss out on critical information both in my essays and application. My biggest challenge was to convince the admission committee on the need of an MBA after 8 years of experience. I worked on this aspect and made sure that I was very clear on my need for an MBA and post MBA goals.
My first victory against all odds was to be invited for an interview at ISB Hyderabad and IIM Bangalore (IIMB). I gave my best shot at the interview and a month later had received admit letters from both schools.
I have accepted my admission at ISB Hyderabad and intend to major in Analytical finance and Strategy & Leadership.
From whatever Sudhir has accomplished before starting his sabbatical at the Indian School of Business, there’s absolutely no doubt in our mind that he’d do very well after his MBA too. The GMAT which carried so much relevance for a few months, will be soon be forgotten.
Here are the key takeaways from this story:
1. If you have a low GMAT score, try again (and yet again, if you have the patience). It is an important parameter.
2. After your best efforts, if the score still isn’t up to the mark, choose schools where you think your profile will be competitive for other reasons.
3. Focus on your goals. Put in your best effort in your essays, recommendations and MBA interview.
4. After you get an admit, please write nice posts like this one for us.