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MBA after BA: From SBI to IIM – an Indian mother’s inspiring journey

MBA after BA: From SBI to IIM

A sarkari naukri (government job) still tops the list for millions of graduates. They look at public sector jobs as the passport to a stable, comfortable and stress-free career with decent salary.

The State Bank of India (SBI) is among the most popular recruiters in the country. After going through all the pain to get in, why would anyone chuck a good, stable job at India’s biggest bank?

Sakshi Chadha’s colleagues at SBI would’ve had the same query when she decided to move on. The arts graduate (BA in Mathematics) had her reasons and motivations for leaving an assistant level job at SBI, as she explains in this blog.

She had completed a bunch of certifications after graduation, but wasn’t content with those. Inspired by her husband’s success she supersized her dreams. She wanted to get into a top IIM.

Her husband had quit his government job and worked with MBA Crystal Ball for his MBA applications. He got into IIM Ahmedabad. So Sakshi had a pretty solid and trustworthy referral to come back to MCB for her MBA application journey.

MBA after BA: From SBI to IIM

by Sakshi Chadha

I started my career at a relatively ‘safe’ job with a banking PSU unit and by 22 was married. Two more years and I was a mother!

At SBI, I was part of the bank’s digital push and helped its vast and diverse customer base go online.

While the job gave me a sense of satisfaction, I always felt that my peers were doing a lot better than me, both financially as well as in terms of work quality.

Unknown to me and to those around me, I was perhaps always a strong career-oriented woman.

Then came a big life-changing moment. My husband quit his cushy PSU job in 2016!

Reason: He got into the IIM Ahmedabad one-year MBA program (IIMA PGPX).

I had been on a break by then, to take care of my baby and decided to make the most of this occasion by accompanying my husband to the IIMA campus. The school offered larger accommodations for married candidates.

I had gone there with no clear agenda but what I saw there changed how I perceived myself and what I could do in life.

There were candidates in from a wide range of age, experience and backgrounds.

I realized that education has no age or time.

Most of all, it was really inspirational to see several women candidates there, some who had their little ones as young as 4 months. I started to realize that it was possible.

I also pored over books and course material that my husband had. Being on the IIMA campus and interacting with some of the brightest minds in our country, I was recharged and knew I wanted to make a mark in my career too!

And I knew one day, I’ll be back on this campus.

At the ripe age of 28, coming out of a break, I decided to make it a double whammy by switching from retail banking to digital marketing.

The journey had several challenges. I had to re-start my career as an intern, working for free at a startup.

The comparison with my peers couldn’t be starker in terms of monetary and other benefits.

But I soldiered on for 5 years, getting better at my job, taking online courses and building my profile.

From an intern, I became the head of digital marketing at a public listed company. I pushed myself to gain as much quality work experience that I could, with the aim to make my profile worthy enough for an IIM admission.

All this while, I continued to play the loving and caring mother.

The Covid-19 lockdown gave me that final push.

I could finally save up some time and put my head down for the next 6 months on the GMAT.

I had perhaps not budgeted for the next challenge – MBA applications!

MBA application work can be exhausting as it pushes you to present your life story in a nutshell.

Not only that, you have to give all the small details, dates and reasons for your career path.

This, as you’d have guessed by now, was giving me very nervous time due to my 2 career breaks and the fact that I had 5 jobs!

I had a sinking feeling that the breaks will put me out of the race right up front.

How would the admission officers look at someone who had prioritized family over career, I wondered.

This is when MBA Crystal Ball came to my rescue.

My husband had already worked with them during his application and was happy with their overall approach and working style.

I quickly reached out to Manish Gupta, commonly known as MG.

He first did a basic MBA profile evaluation and then we went into more details as our engagement progressed.

To my surprise and delight, MG gave me the assurance that career breaks don’t mean I had no chance and that I should persevere – like I had done so far, in my life and career.

In 2020, I applied to IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta but got rejected by both after interviews. This was a rude shock I had not prepared for!

Not willing to let this push me back, I persevered. When the 2021 admissions season started, I was already emailing MG, and as always, getting his responses in a flash.

Spreading my net wider, this time I applied to the IIM BLACKI, to use a popular acronym i.e. all the 6 IIMs.

Gazing into the crystal ball (figuratively, of course), MG suggested that I’d get into the top three.

But I did not want to face failure again.

I have also used the MBA interview service from MBA Crystal Ball. This time again, MG’s detailed and precise feedback on the screen appearance, data pointers to fluency, and more were a godsend.

I am happy to have proven MG’s prediction right by getting admits from IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta.

MG’s confidence in me, when I wasn’t so sure, is remarkable.

In the end, the MBA application journey proved to be much tougher for me than GMAT prep.

I went through 9 applications and 6 interviews to get to my goal!

Early discussions with my class at IIM have revealed the range of GMAT scores to be from 680 onwards and there have been people with 780 scores who have had their applications rejected.

I have no doubts that my 700 score needed a strong application to sail through.

My engagement with MBA Crystal Ball helped me present a strong candidature, from essays to the application and finally during the interviews.

The best part is that MG never gave me ready answers. He pushed my thinking and challenged me every step of the way.

It is to these conversations that I also owe my career clarity and what I want to do after my MBA in a more specific and unambiguous way.

All my near and dear ones are elated that a mother of two could accomplish this feat and prove all the naysayers wrong.

In all this, my pillar of support has been my spouse who has always inspired me to look inwards for courage and perseverance.

Get in touch with us, if you’re looking to get into IIM or any other top MBA program that accepts GMAT / GRE scores: info at mbacrystalball dot com

Also read:
MBA abroad without GMAT for Indian mom
Choosing between being a careerwoman or a housewife and mother
Why should an Indian mom with kids drop her MBA plans?
Indian mom with a Bank PO job gets an MBA
GMAT MBA after PSU Bank PO job

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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.

2 thoughts on “MBA after BA: From SBI to IIM – an Indian mother’s inspiring journey”

  1. Very Good evening,

    I am writing to let you know that I completed my B.Tech from Information Technology in 2019 with 7.4 CGPA on a scale of 10. Since then, till August 2021 I have worked in my father’s company which was a retail textile company.

    In September 2021, I came to UK at University of Bath for my MSc in Data Science and I am on the verge of graduating with 2:1 degree by the end of August this year. However, I don’t want to work in the Data Science domain.

    Coming to UK and pursuing MSc in Data Science, I soon realized this is not what I want to do in my life and now I have decided that I would love pursue MBA from India from top IIMs in the fall of 2023 or fall of 2024. Also, in August I will be 25 years old.

    Please suggest me if this a good idea and I am waiting for your precious feedback.

    Thank you.


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