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How this chartered accountant got into ISB with a low GMAT score of 600

Chartered accountant got into ISB with a 600 GMAT score

It seems like chartered accountants (CA) have a special quality about them that fascinates MBA admission officers (Benefits of MBA abroad after CA).

We published this story about a CA who overcame a 580 GMAT to get admits and scholarships.

And others where a CA got into ISB with a full scholarship and a CA who went for an MBA with textile manufacturing experience in family business.

Here’s another CA who’s done what high scoring MBA applicants from engineering and other backgrounds could only dream of.


I got into ISB with a 600 GMAT score

by S. Lakshminarayanan


Born in Tamil Nadu and brought up in the Financial Capital Mumbai, I was a mixture of the pace of the financial capital and the culture of Tamil Nadu imbibed in my name S. Lakshminarayanan. My parents made sure that by learning to write my name, I would be able to memorize a majority of the English alphabets.

I was academically decent. From my childhood I nurtured a great interest in sports and dance.

My friends would always know me to be a mischievous, leg-pulling fellow who would speak at ease irrespective of who stood in front of me.

A coincidental interview with the CEO (who was 13th ranker in CA) of the Corporation which owned the school I attended, led me to an interest in the chartered accountancy (CA) course. I faced a lot of flak for not becoming an engineer.

Numbers always fascinated me. Fortunately, I cleared all the exams in the first attempt. After completing my CA, the love for stock markets prompted me to join the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the largest stock exchange of India.

I was again fortunate enough to be part of the core team at NSE that went on to establish the Power Exchange India Limited (PXIL), India’s first institutionally promoted Power Exchange.

A new company always gives you ample experience in terms of handling various departments, since the manpower is limited and work to be done is humongous. This was a huge learning experience.

My itch to do an MBA existed from the time I cleared my CA. I felt it would nurture further dimensions of my personality. This led to me attend an admission information session by the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Mumbai.

The session was enriching. This led to a desire to do the MBA from such a reputed institution which had found its way to the top at such a short time.

After the info session which I attended in 2011 July; my plan was to apply for the next year.

However, a thought struck my mind which was encouraged by my wife – that I can experiment in the same year to gain some experience in the application phase.

So, with a low GMAT score of 600, I went ahead with the application experiment hoping to use this experience to put in a strong application in the next year.

To my dismay, the experiment failed. I got a call in the same year!

While the low GMAT score was an aberration, my profile helped me sailed through – setting up the first institutionally promoted power exchange, plus writing about my 12-year-long stint with my girlfriend (and my wife now), plus the dance and sports participation most probably did the trick.

This gave me a very important lesson that GMAT scores matter to a certain extent, but if you have done a lot of things and gained experience, the same has got a lot of value in the professional world.

The ISB essays which were one of the essentials was entirely written by me on which I got unbiased opinion from my close friends who would call spade a spade. And that actually helped.

Since I was to seriously apply for an MBA the next year, I had not taken any consultant’s help. Also, I applied only to ISB that year and that turned out to be first time lucky for me.

Things moved fast from then on, with the interview scheduled on October 15, 2011 and getting the final admission confirmation exactly one month later.

The ISB grind started with diverse candidates coming in one place. The most difficult part was to get back to academics and exams after a gap of around 7 years.

However, the outspoken person in me had a gala time interacting with lots of uniquely talented individuals from across the globe. That’s why that is truly called a roller coaster ride for one year.

Two things I was awestruck with throughout the year were the world class facilities and faculties. Those are the two things due to which I have referred a lot of people to experience ISB after my PGP.

The year zoomed by before we know it – with term exams, lots of activities, projects, fun, birthday parties, potlucks, ISL (sports league), dance wars (which our group won) and what not.

I majored in finance and strategy which were the two areas I wanted to develop myself in.

The final stages of the ISB life ended with me getting an offer to head strategy & finance for an NBFC. I worked there for 4 years raising a lot of funds (primarily debt) and creating new products and verticals.

Post that I got an offer to enter the CXO category whereby I went on to be CFO of a tech start-up where I worked for 2 years raising equity and streamlining the finance, governance and compliance structure.

In the meanwhile, a passion of mine which stayed with me from the 12th standard to teach combined with my penchant for reading provided a new scope to teach kids speed reading and memory.

I experimented with the concept with a few kids in the rural and tribal areas and then took it mainstream soon.

A year after doing that part-time, now I have ventured into my own offline education space, whereby I teach lifelong learning skills to students across ages.

All in all, the experience from ISB was totally worth it and my advice for all the aspirants, especially my CA friends would be to take this shot to gain experience of the facilities, faculties and the peer ISB has to offer.

Also read:
How to get into ISB
CA with 580 GMAT gets scholarship from 3 top MBA programs
MBA in Germany for Indian Chartered Accountant after 30
Low GMAT score success stories

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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.

12 thoughts on “How this chartered accountant got into ISB with a low GMAT score of 600”

  1. Hi, I found this blog very interesting, however I would like to ask whether other international professional courses like CIMA, ACCA have the same value in MBA applications?

  2. Hi MG,

    Thanks for helping us all. I have done my B.E. In 2007 and then joined Infosys as Software engineer. In 2010 joined IIM C graduate. In 2012, after graduation joined an IT company as Sales Manager. Worked in countries like Australia.

    Have one exchange term from European University during my IIM MBA.

    Thinking of doing a second MBA from Europe as would love to continue my life outside India. I want to work and live outside India and my first MBA doesn’t give me that guarantee. Need your advice.

  3. Hi MG,
    I’m planning to do MBA in supply chain management. Is MIT have MBA program in supply chain management which is of two years course.

    • MIT does offer a regular 2 year MBA where you can take courses/electives in operations and SCM areas. They also offer programs such as SCMr which are of shorter duration, but focused specifically on SCM.

  4. Hii MG I am 33 now and working with 2nd largest Nationalised Bank of India and having 9 years of working experience and want to do second MBA.
    How should I proceed to get into ISB Hyderabad?

    • Brijesh, while you can always make a run for ISB since they do have folks in your age/experience range, a better fit might be IIM A and C. It would be prudent to look at all these from application standpoint, while you continue your research regarding fit.


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