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Top MBA after government job in the Indian railways

Many have asked us if working in a government job reduces their chances of getting into a top bschool. Our response has been consistent – if you can demonstrate quality experience and impactful accomplishments in your application, you’d be as competitive as anyone else from the private sector.

Inspired by his parents’ careers, Harjot Sandhu, joined the government sector with the intention of making a difference to the nation. And the biggest employer in the country (i.e. the Indian Railways) provided him plenty of avenues to do that.

Six year later, he felt it was time to upgrade his skills, reinvent himself and prepare for newer, bigger and more exciting opportunities. And if the opportunity is good, he isn’t averse to the option of joining a government job after his MBA.

Why I chose an MBA after working in a government job

My journey from the Indian Railways to ISB

by Harjot Sandhu

ISB MBA after railway jobBorn in Moradabad (UP) and brought up mostly in Punjab, I did my Bachelor in Engineering (B.E.) in Computer Engineering from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala.

Both of my parents worked in the government sector – my father is a retired doctor and my mother a retired IAS officer. I’d like to believe that I’m a compassionate and empathetic person and growing up I earnestly wished to make a positive difference in the world.

This fact along with my parent’s professional background (particularly my mother’s) drove me to give the civil services exam. I was fortunate enough to get through in my first attempt and was allotted the Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS).

Pros and cons of working in a government job

As is with any other job, working in the IRTS has been a mixed bag.

As for the positives – the IR provides you the opportunity to manage at a grand scale even at very young age. Imagine being responsible for increasing non-fare revenue in a railway division, which comprises around 150 stations and covers thousands of square kilometers or managing the logistics of moving freight traffic worth around 2000 crores annually.

Working in an intense 24×7 environment and managing/interacting with a wide cross section of people from different classes does enrich you at a professional as well as a personal level. You get to learn strategy, policy implementation, operations, man management etc. Being in a position of great responsibility, you mature beyond your years.

As far as the negatives are concerned – a very rigid hierarchy, inertia to change, departmentalism etc. are some that come to mind immediately. Driving positive change in the government is harder than what most outsiders would imagine. Not to say that it’s not possible, but it takes time and some luck as well.

Having worked in the Indian Railways for six years, I am on the cusp of promotion to a middle level management position.

After five years, the government provides the option of study leave where you get your salary and other allowances during the period of study.

So, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and do an MBA.

ISB application experience

I prepared for the GMAT on my own and got a 710. I was satisfied, if not exhilarated with the score. I chose to work with MBA application consultants because of a paucity of time.

Since MBA Crystal Ball had nice reviews and seemed genuine, I chose to work with them. I worked with Parveen for the interviews and essays. What was great about Parveen is that he helped me select the right stories from my work experience, provided me a framework to pen down my ideas and encouraged me to be authentic.

His essay editing was also excellent and helped me to get all the right points across within the prescribed word limit for essays.

Parveen has a very patient and participative style of working where he values the input of the applicant immensely. This really helped me to write genuine essays which showcased my strengths and in a unique way.

The MBA interview prep with Parveen helped me prepare for the big day. The mock questions forced me to think deeply.

Luckily, one of the questions asked in the interview was the same as Parveen had discussed during one of our brain storming sessions.

At the end of the day, I feel very happy satisfied working with MBA Crystal Ball.

I applied only to ISB and got through!

Government job after MBA still a good option

As far as career goals are concerned, if get a great opportunity at ISB to shift to the private sector, I will.

Else, I’ll be joining back in the government sector in a railways job after MBA.

As the demand for MBA in government jobs soars and the number of deputations to international organizations like the World Bank, UN etc. which have MBA as an essential/preferred qualification increases, I see immense value for an MBA within government in the future as well.

Also read:
From an Indian Railways TTE job to Chartered Accountant
MBA or IAS after engineering for NIT Btech grad
ISB MBA after PSU in Round 3 applications
Differences between Government (Public) Sector and Private Sector Jobs
How to get government jobs after graduation
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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Email. Or follow on Linkedin, Facebook.

20 thoughts on “Top MBA after government job in the Indian railways”

  1. Hello Manish,

    I am complete new to this GMAT . I don’t know the process n all. I want hear the from scratch actually. now I am just motivated to give GMAT but not aware of the process. so please send me some link where I can find complete process .

  2. Hello Manish, thank you for this very helpful information. What I wanted to ask is what kind of job experience do the universities prefer before your MBA. Because I am an undergraduate student in the field of Information Technology, therefore I have the job experience in IT based industries. So are there any selective jobs related to commerce or any kind of job would do required?

  3. hi , i have gmat score of 640(Q48 , v29 , IR -1) and my acads are – 10-75, 12- 68 and – 65 . I have 2.5 years of IT expereince , but after that i worked in a bank for the sales team in dubai for 22 months, it was corporate sales with clients ranging from SME to Big Corporates, and from past 6 months i am working as a marketing manager in a publication house in india , should i apply to SP jain’s 1 year program with this score ? and my concern is at present i am not working in a MNC or Big company , so can that make an issue ?

    • The profile contours look interesting; especially your current role. However, make sure you are able to bring out skills that will help in your planned post-MBA roles.

      The GMAT might be a slight handicap and if possible, you should apply with a retake.

  4. Hi Manish sir
    I m Rahul did my engg in Mumbai 2015
    From 2016 to 2019 will b completing mim Nd msc frn Edhec France 14 the ranked in the world with stragy management I m confidence of getting in capgimini
    France I want work till 2021 . I hv gmat score is 720
    Can I get in top 5 USA universities for mba
    Pl reply

  5. Hi Manish,
    Great explanation. Totally loved the article.
    need suggestion. I cracked IES exam and got Indian Railways. I have a work experience of 6+years in it. my CGPA in Btech is 8.5 from a tier 2 college.
    1-whether doing an MBA is good for switching the job?
    2- what are the opportunities can I get post MBA?
    3- which MBA specialization would be good for me?

  6. Hello,, myself swati rajaput. I am doing my B.E in civil and i want to get a job indian railways…So how can I prepare for that….

  7. Hi Manish
    Presently I work for a State Distribution Company (State Psu) as an Assistant Engineer with 4.6 ys work ex. My 12th- 68 % n my BE – 58% GMAT -710. I have a 4yr gap as I was preparing for gov exams. In order to change my career is MBA from India a good option for me. And even if I get a good collage will my gap n second div BE degree will be an issue while placements.

    • @Rahul, while MBA can help, first think about what kind of career you are looking for. The gap will be a drag on the profile both for admit and later. However, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker provided you plan it correctly and do enough due diligence.

  8. Hello Manish,
    I am working as senior section engineer in indian railways. Did my Btech in 2014 from mechanical engineering. Post graduation i got placed in Cognizant through campus amd worked for 1 year (2014-15). Later i joined Railways. I have a work experience of 6+ years.
    1-whether doing an Executive MBA is good for switching the job or 2 years MBA?
    2- what are the opportunities can I get post Exe.MBA?
    3- which Exe.MBA specialization would be good for me?


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