After completing an MBA from one of the top Indian MBA colleges, some start feeling constrained and stagnated by their roles. That’s when the thoughts of getting a second MBA abroad from Harvard, Stanford and Wharton start popping up in the mind.
But not all top universities accept second MBA applicants. High age (over 30) and too much experience (10+ years) can also stop applicants in their tracks, for the traditional 2 year MBA in USA.
A 2nd MBA from IIM or India (1-year MBA format) is a option for those who want to stay back in India. But what if you’ve set your mind on a jet-setting, international career?
Rahul Muchhal was among those who faced all these challenges.
I am an Indian male with 11+ years of work experience in sales and leadership roles (last 18 months of which have been at Hennef, Germany) pursing a techno entrepreneurship venture.
I did my first MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM, 2004) in marketing and worked with various FMCG organizations like Marico, Dabur and Coats plc. My last stint India was as with a media company – ENIL – Radio Mirchi (98.3FM) in Brand Activation as AVP- Experiential Marketing.
Although I had harbored the dream to pursue an International MBA since 2011, the thought become clearer when I moved to head an International business, I felt that to successfully lead this venture, an International leadership program is essential. Easier said than done though.
Having a work experience for more than 10+ years and being on the right side of 30, brings with it its own challenges. Most schools that I sent my profile/ CV/ resume to, did not really discourage me directly but replied back saying that currently they have students with average work experience between 4-6 years and I should look at their Executive MBA.
However I was not willing to settle for an executive MBA, even if it was among the best Executive MBA (EMBA) programs in the world. Having already done my MBA; I should have a very strong reason to do my second MBA abroad.
A couple of b-schools answered back stating that since I already have an MBA, I am not eligible to apply. So far so good!
However I did not get discouraged. I wanted time off to reflect on my learnings so far, unlearn few things and learn few new ones.
I started my research and realized that only few programs fit the bill. I remember speaking to Sameer Kamat and he suggested me to look for the Sloan Fellows program conducted across three leading schools like MIT, Stanford and LBS. It seemed to fit the bill.
I also considered IMD Switzerland. I visited HEC Paris, and INSEAD, France. I started communicating with all of them. London Business School (LBS) replied back saying I would be fit for class of 2016 Jan and I am a year short of experience to apply for the program. MIT responded positively.
I was in big dilemma. For a regular MBA in USA or UK, I was too experienced. And for some really good leadership programs like Sloan Fellows, I was too young. However I decided to keep my communication open with them.
I have realized that bschools often gauge interest levels of the candidate in the program with the kind of persuasion levels. I researched more about this program, wrote to the Adcom members, read all possible information about the program on the internet. After all this I was quite determined that it is the right program for me.
I checked with them for a telephonic chat with one of the members from the Admissions committee to understand my fit for the program. MIT & LBS responded back and I had my first telephonic chat with an Adcom member from MIT in June 2014 for 45 minutes.
We discussed about my motivation to do an International leadership program and how this would help in my venture and in career immediately and in long term. We also discussed about my work experience so far.
Based on the discussion, she encouraged me to apply and the journey began in August 2014. I submitted my application in Round 1 on Nov 17th 2014. On 31st Dec, I got my interview invite.
My interview was scheduled for 14th Jan in New Delhi and I got my acceptance email on 5th Feb 2015.
The icing on the cake was the MBA scholarship that I got. A few days after receiving my acceptance call, there was another email mentioning that I had been awarded the Dean’s Fellowship in the amount of $15,000!
The application process was very important in my case, given the fact that I had not written my GMAT.
My GMAT waiver based on my past qualification, was approved in August 2014.
The most important and rewarding journey had begun. Every single thing from my essays, recommendation and additional information had to be very consistent.
A long telephonic brainstorming call with Manish Gupta (MG) after my first initial draft, made it clear that I had the content but my narration was all over the place. There were too many things I was trying to communicate and a lot of work had to go in the essays to even qualify for first draft. I was far from being there. MG’s comments were blunt and straight to the point.
I consider this as the single BIGGEST reason for making the CUT whether it was for my mock interviews or essay drafts or the scholarship.
It changed my thought process completely. I stopped bull-shitting and covered all essentials aspects.
I had extremely good working relations with my ex-bosses. Most of them with 15+ years of experience with an MBA degree from IIM. I discussed all my essays with them thoroughly before each draft. In spite of this, MG’s feedback and review never ceased to amaze me.
Each of the MG’s review always came up with very relevant feedback and to the point. Somehow he exactly caught what I was missing. By the end of the second draft, I was simply floored and that actually helped quite a bit. I followed every single suggestion from MG very religiously and that made us a very good team.
I think I took much longer than what it would take to write essays but it had more to do with the fact that I had a very erratic international travel schedule.
However the thought process was always on. I spoke to my bosses whenever I got some time, wrote back to MG asking things (which he so promptly replied) and worked to improve my essays draft. I think I must have had at least 10 drafts for each of the essays. Every time I did something half-baked, he got it immediately.
I think I always dreaded opening his review emails but 100% of the times the feedback was so relevant that I started working on my essays immediately leaving everything aside, only after four-five hours of continuous work, did I feel a little relieved and when I had worked on 80% of his feedback. Somehow the feedback triggers my thought process immediately.
Hope you find my experiences useful.