Come back to watch this video on how to answer -> Tell me about yourself

MBA after Digital Marketing: How I got into Cambridge with 690 GMAT score

MBA after Digital Marketing

Three months! That’s all it took for Priyamvada Joshi, a chemical engineer by qualification, to realise that she didn’t want to continue working in the textile industry.

Most professionals in India end up choosing a career, not because they are excited about the field, but because this is what they got based on their entrance exam performance.

Most are unwilling to admit it was a mistake, and continue to live a life filled with stress and regret.

Priyamvada wasn’t among them. With no other job offer in hand, she chose to break free and venture out to find something that really excited her.

The exciting and fast-paced world of startups caught her attention. With the right hustling, she managed to change careers.

Starting with a basic role, she made her way to InMobi in a digital marketing role.

After 6 rewarding years of growth and learning, she found herself again at an inflection point.

What made her consider an international MBA after digital marketing?
What hurdles did she have to overcome?

For the answers, over to Priyamvada!

Why MBA after Digital Marketing

How I got into Cambridge University

by Priyamvada Joshi

I grew up in a family of doctors in the city of Bhopal, India. Growing up, I saw my parents work hard and hustle at their jobs as doctors. I always looked up to them.

However, I never had straight answer to the dreaded question:

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I was ready to strive and make something out of myself, just like my parents.

As a student, I was good at my academics and nearly aced every subject. After 12th, I took the engineering entrance exams, just like many other Indian students.

I graduated as a chemical engineer and started working as a trainee at a textile services plant.

Working at an industrial plant took a toll on me. So, I quit my job impulsively after 3 months.

For someone who spent the last 4 years grasping concepts around plants and their processes , it was major setback. I was more confused than ever.

The startup scene was booming in India. While exploring for new jobs, I was drawn by the fast-paced nature of work and the steep learning curve offered by start-ups.

I saw this as the right time and opportunity to experiment with my skills and joined an early-stage tech startup. I spent the next one year selling niche IOT products in an immature market.

After a year of working at the start up, I decided to join InMobi Technologies (India’s first unicorn & mobile advertising technology solutions provider) as I was looking for greater exposure and wanted to streamline my learnings in a stable organizational setup.

In the next 5 years at InMobi, I explored different roles in technology industry at the intersection of business development, customer success and program management.

Working across diverse functions, I realized that I was always up for challenging projects in a highly dynamic setting.

I really enjoyed learning new skills and acquiring knowledge about the tech ecosystem. Over my 6 years work experience, I understood my leanings as an individual, personally & professionally.

My quest to continue growing, exploring different roles and expanding my skill-set made the idea of pursuing an MBA really appealing to me.

This was further fortified by my ambitions to gain international exposure and to build a career in product management which seemed like a natural course given my cross-functional skill-set and interest in the domain.

After discussing my aspirations with my peers, seniors, and product managers, many of whom were MBA graduates, I felt confident with my decision to pursue MBA at this stage in my career.

GMAT Preparation

I guess this is where I realized what I had gotten myself into. 😀

GMAT is your trump card, they said. It is an absolute deal breaker if you are an Indian aspirant.

I have always been a forward thinker. I planned and started to prepare for my GMAT almost 6 months in advance before the R1 deadlines.

My target score was 750+ and anything below 720 was subject to another attempt.

It was the first quarter of 2020. The pandemic had hit its peak and I found myself juggling my GMAT notes with work calls in multiple time zones.

Circumstances at home were difficult as I saw my parents struggle with their duty as COVID health workers.

As much as I tried, my 6-month plan got extended to 8-month plan and so one. I took my first attempt in Sept 2020 which was way ahead of the R1 deadlines.

I scored a 690.

My planning wasn’t working out and I panicked. In that moment, I wanted to quit my job so that I could give my full-fledged attention to GMAT.

This is when I started scouring the internet to understand the GMAT scores and the impact of taking career breaks.

I came across a blog by MCB and directly messaged Sameer Kamat on LinkedIn to get his input on my career break plan in greater details.

I was surprised and somewhat relieved, when I saw his quick response to my query. Sameer connected me to Manish Gupta, who heads consulting at MCB.

Manish gave me honest feedback of my profile, outcomes of taking a career break and his inputs with respect to my score.

He really came across as someone who understood what goes inside the head of an MBA aspirant.

From thereon, I continued my conversation with Manish and kept him updated on my GMAT score progress.

After my first attempt, I took 2 more attempts and ended my final attempt at 690 in Jan’21. I consistently aced my GMAT quant score, but my verbal score wasn’t coming up.

I guess I was not really satisfied with my final score, but I was mentally prepared for the outcome that came with this score.

I knew this is where I had to stop.

My mentors from top B-schools made me realise…

Even with my score of 690, I was ambitious with my school selection. I was aiming for the top MBA programs in the US & UK.

After speaking with some of my mentors who graduated from top B-Schools, I realised the importance of working with a good MBA admissions consultant.

I wanted an honest and trustworthy input on the core competencies in my profile and how to leverage them in my applications.

I was looking for an MBA application consultant who would not write my applications for me, rather help me understand the essays from an admissions committee perspective.

MCB was easily my top choice given their quick and dedicated responses to my past queries when I was taking my GMAT. I didn’t think twice when I decided to move ahead with their consulting services.

I took the MAP + 4 School selection package with the MCB team and was fortunate to work with Vibhav & Maitabi during my application phase.

Learning how to crack the code

In the last few years, I’ve spoken to many MBA aspirants, and I’ve realized that application phase is often underestimated and considered relatively easier as compared to taking the GMAT and getting a score.

In my opinion, applications are equally important and require intense dedication, research & most importantly, introspection.

In many ways, MCB has formulated the code to cracking the perfect application with MAP framework at the forefront.

The MBA MAP framework made me reflect on my personal and professional choices and helped me in establishing my real reasons for pursuing MBA.

The part that I enjoyed the most was brainstorming over my ideas and choices with Vibhav and Maitabi.

A good essay is often confused with having great writing skills, vocabulary etc. but working with Vibhav and Maitabi, I understood that the essay content needs to come from within and should be real yet tangible enough for the adcom to interpret.

What I greatly admired throughout my whole journey working with the MCB team was that they never tried to write my essays for me or mould my thought process.

I looked up to Vibhav as my mentor. I really liked his neutral and honest inputs on my skills and thought process.

Under Vibhav’s expert guidance, I was able to find the required clarity and depth with respect to my career goals in product management.

He had great context on PM roles and technology industry, and he was able to closely relate with my project work.

Every session with him was enriching and he constantly nudged me to explore and research my ideas in-depth.

We brainstormed over schools, application, product management, my career trajectory and this gave me new perspective, something I could not imagine having if I decided to write my essays by myself.

I had an equally great experience working with Maitabi. She really helped me see through myself and my intrinsic thoughts when it came to writing personal / life experience essays. In her inputs, she made sure that the essay was coming from me.

Under her guidance, I was able to speak about my vulnerabilities and present them truthfully while setting the right balance and tone.

Post the MAP process, I did a lot of research around schools and product management.

I decided to apply to 4 schools in R1 based on the average scores, location, and post -MBA opportunities in product management.

Personally, I preferred Europe based schools over US-based as I wanted a more relaxed setting around visas and travel.

B-school selection was not an easy process.

I spoke with multiple alumni and students from top B-schools to gain insight.

Cambridge Judge School was a top choice given the program’s prestige, location, and tech placement records.

I also applied to CMU, Foster Washington and Cornell considering the placement stats at my target companies.

Once I had decided on the schools, I made a checklist of the essay questions, the school requirements, and deadlines.

This really helped my in defining the timelines around research, introspection and finally penning down my essays.

After months of hard work, deliberation, and brainstorming sessions I was finally able to deliver well rounded applications to all the four schools within their deadlines.

I got an interview invite from Cambridge Judge School and got waitlisted for CMU Tepper.

Given the value addition I saw in essay and application process, I was quite eager to work with MCB for interview preparation.

We had a few mock MBA interview sittings followed by detailed feedback and recommendations.

I was nervous before the mock sessions but the whole process really conditioned me for the main day. I had to prepare to not sound too prepared.

On the day of interview, I had a 30-minute round. I had some answers prepared and some were ad-hoc questions. Keeping calm and staying positive really helped me.

I finally got an admit on Cambridge Judge Business School which was also my top choice program.

As a candidate from an over-represented pool and with an average GMAT score, I feel my work experience and applications were really the key differentiator.

Prior planning and research really helped my case. I owe a great deal to the MCB team for helping me build strong applications which indeed became the deal breaker in my case.

Also read:
Getting into Cambridge from India: My MBA admissions experience
Ivy league vs Oxbridge – Harvard Stanford vs Cambridge Oxford

MBA Song | Start here | Success stories | Reality check | Knowledgebase | Scholarships | Services

Serious about higher ed? Follow us:


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 Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

Leave a Comment