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ISB PGPpro application story: Why I chose an Executive MBA without GMAT requirement

Many MBA graduates from Indian business schools work with us for their second MBA. Not all are able to leave a well-paying career to join a full-time MBA all over again.

More so when they have over 10 years of experience and in a good, stable career in Sales and Marketing with one of the biggest auto manufacturers. And the prospect of preparing for the GMAT with a full-time job seems daunting.

Review of my ISB PGPpro application process

Executive MBA from ISB without GMAT

by Rahul Darshan

ISB PGPpro application process review

Hailing from a middle-class family based out of Navi Mumbai, I have always been a shy student being average with academics or even extracurriculars at school or college.

After completing my mechanical engineering from VJTI (Mumbai), I pursued my MBA (MMS to be specific) from Mumbai University.

Today after 12 years of work experience, I have majorly worked in the automobiles and auto ancillary industry, in the sales function (B2B as well as B2C) with firms such as Bajaj Auto, Castrol and the likes.

The most challenging part of a sales job is the constant pressure of targets to be met and exceeded – be it the 2009 recession or the 2017 demonetization.

The best thing that the sales profession has taught me is to be good with people and good with numbers. I never realized how an introvert like me eventually became an extrovert and so outgoing.

Having said that, there came a stage when I realized that stagnancy or delay has creeped into my career.

After introspecting, I realized clearly that to go beyond this level I must go back to (a premier) school to learn and change my perspective & outlook towards business, by enhancing my competency skill sets.

But with a full-time job along with family commitments, quitting my job and going for an MBA was never on my mind. The opportunity cost would be too high and there would be too much at stake.

Yet I was very clear that I wanted to pursue an executive MBA (EMBA) from a premium B school in India, which is also not a distance learning program.

So, the top IIMs were ruled out.

I was glad enough to have come across PGPpro for working professionals which ISB offers, which suits my priorities as well.

After interacting with some ISB PGPpro alumni, I further gained more clarity about this program and was confident that it would certainly enable me to learn and develop an outlook in me that was much needed to aspire for senior positions in management.

Once I made up my mind to apply for PGPpro at ISB, for me it was like do or die situation as ISB was the only B-school I was targeting, and I certainly did not want to take any chance.

During that time I came across ISB PGPpro student Vineet’s blog, in which he testified about his good experience working with MBA Crystal Ball (MCB).

[Read it here: ISB PGPpro Review: Why I selected a Weekend Executive MBA]

After a quick telephonic discussion with him, I did not waste time in searching for other consultants.

I immediately shortlisted and finalized MCB to be the one to work with me for my application process.

When I first started working on the applications, I felt completely lost. I could not figure out what exactly was expected out of me.

But then Vibhav gave me directions to think to come out with qualitative results. He kept on encouraging me throughout the application and essay drafting.

There was a point in the essay review process when I thought the essay was complete. But I had to trash it, as Vibhav was not satisfied with the draft. This left me perplexed.

We ended up working for almost 2 months together with a number of permutations and combinations, brain-storming interactions and thought-provoking engagement sessions.

Ultimately, his ability to distill my sales and dealership management experience into a few stories and force me to identify my biggest strengths and my future goals was the aha! moment.

I certainly do not think that I could have managed to deliver without Vibhav’s help, in the manner of qualitative details that we actually been able to deliver in the end.


Insights from Vibhav (Rahul’s consultant)

Rahul’s humility and eagerness to brainstorm was the key to his success. Coming from a sales and marketing background, I felt his ability to talk about more than just sales numbers and bring out nuances of sales and dealership business understanding that set him apart from his peers, ultimately made the difference in the selection process.

The clarity gained about my strengths and achievements through the whole process was my biggest asset during my interview as well.

But, I would be lying if I say that I wasn’t nervous on the day of the ISB PGPpro interview.

It was conducted by a panel of 2 gentlemen (ISB alumni). It went on for almost 45 min.

All I can say here is that questions that they asked were so simple, but the answers I had to give were very intricate. What an irony!

In the end, my ability to elaborate on my essay stories precisely and lucidly in great amount of detail is what I believe was my biggest differentiation.

The results were announced after almost 20 days.

I couldn’t have been happier after securing the admission offer.

I firmly believe that lessons inside and outside the classroom at ISB shall play a pivotal role in enabling my aspirations and my growth into a performance-driven business.

To all those who are applying to ISB PGP Pro course, it is very imperative that the work experience – covering job description, job responsibilities and key achievements – is well-articulated.

It needs to be showcased in the form of strong stories which illustrate your differentiating factors.

But keep your profile as realistic as possible.

My advice to all applicants – Stay humble, stay hungry, stay honest.

Also read:
PGPMAX vs PGPpro vs ILPSIE – Which is good for you?
Second MBA abroad after IIM, ISB, other Indian programs: Pros and Cons
Executive MBA with scholarship in India with an average over-represented profile

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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.

8 thoughts on “ISB PGPpro application story: Why I chose an Executive MBA without GMAT requirement”

  1. Hi,MG,
    What is your advise for a student who has scored 10Gp in 10th Cbsc and 75%i 12th and presently doing B.Tech software Engineering 4th year in a reputed college and scored 8.9 go.Now he is appearing in test for placement for most of reputed IT companies.
    Should he grap job or go for higher education now or after working for 3/4 years then he should go for MBA.

  2. Hi Manish,

    I have an overall experience of 9 years in IT industry (Financial Services related clients) with a technical profile. I have spent 3+ years in Europe as well working at client locations. My academics are average but i have some extra-curriculars to show on my Resume (Not sure if academics and extra curricular matter with this much experience). I had given my GMAT years back and my score is 720.
    I would like to continue working in the Financial Services industry. Considering time/effort and money, I am not sure MBA is the right step for me at this stage. Should i go for CFA instead?

  3. Hi Manish,

    I am a law graduate with 3 years of experience in Risk Assurance and Governance profile, dealing mostly with contract management and international and domestic compliance. I haven’t taken GMAT/GRE yet but I have cleared B1 level of German Language. Probably, will take GMAT/GRE by the end of this year. Kindy, help me out whether it is possible for me to get in Mannheim, Frankfurt and WHU Otto Beisheim for MBA? Where do I stand and what all other requirements do I need to fulfill to get in?

    • It should definitely be possible to have a good shot, provided you have achievements to show and know why you want to pursue MBA.

      Do reach out to us directly once you have a GMAT score and we can help you put in strong applications.

  4. Hi Manish,
    I have completed my MBA 4 years back from a tier 3 institute, currently working in E-commerce domain specializing in operations, I am aiming for a 2nd MBA to scale up my knowledge & to enhance my career perspective.Would be attempting GMAT after a couple of months.My question is whether ISB or any other top Indian B-school consider candiates who already have a management Degree ?please suggest what approach should i have to crack the ISB.


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