Sushrita Dutta’s journey has come a full circle – from reading MBA Crystal Ball blogs of mothers going back to school, to writing her own success story.
After cracking the competitive entrance exams for public sector banks (PSB), the IT engineer got into the Bank of India as a probationary officer (PO) – a dream job for many looking for a career in the public banking sector.
Soon she realised the financial and personal growth constraints in her role. So she quit.
But she wasn’t done yet. There was so much more that she could do, she believed.
With a toddler to take care of, the ambitious mother started planning for an MBA abroad after her bank PO job.
MBA abroad with scholarship after IBPS Bank PO
by Sushrita Dutta
During my final years in high school, I got my first personal computer. This made me interested in computer programming.
Though I had similar level of interest in Physics and Statistics, I was fascinated by how computers represent a perfect blend of analytical thinking and countless application in real life.
Driven by this desire to explore the field of application of computer programming I decided to pursue B.Tech in IT.
On the basis my excellent results in higher secondary examination, I received scholarship from GOI’s ministry of human resource development for my undergraduate studies.
Being in the merit of top students in my batch, I always dreamt of pursuing higher education. But life is not always what we want it to be.
My life changed completely on the morning of my campus placement when I got the news of the accident of our youngest family member.
It was one of the difficult days of my life, but I got a placement offer in Cognizant Technology Solutions.
I dropped my plan to pursue my post-graduation completely and focused on becoming financially independent.
After the training program in CTS, I got the opportunity to work in the insurance domain. I gained good business knowledge but I did not get any opportunity to work as a developer.
Subsequently I started preparing for PSU and PSB exams. The Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) exam was one of the most relevant ones for me.
When I was preparing for the IBPS exam. I used to read about financial crisis, financial markets, different banking terminologies and many other things which were not required for the exams, but I developed the interest to study and know more about these out of my curiosity.
After struggling for a year with work, studies and family responsibilities, I was selected in IBPS PO exam and decided to join Bank of India.
My time in Bank of India transformed me as a professional. Working in credit department of various branches helped me to be better with negotiation skills, stakeholder management, leadership skills and time management.
I started thinking of pursuing an MBA abroad when I was pregnant. Though, the decision to pursue MBA was initially to be with my child and to take care of him which would not be possible in a transferable job.
But soon after I resigned, I started realising that the PSB job was not only weakening me financially, but also I was not gaining any new learning experiences.
Moreover, beside soft skills, in my opinion, one must have industry knowledge, tools and technology knowledge which would help to switch from one organization to another.
Thus resigning from the PSB was a major and right decision for me.
An MBA degree would help me to work in the same organisation where my husband work/will work in future and this might be good to raise my child. Besides, most importantly, I can transition from one Bank to another and from banking to finance industry.
I started preparing for the GMAT exam after the birth of my son. While quant was easy for me, the verbal section doomed my GMAT preparation.
After struggling with verbal preparation, poor health and sleepless nights for my son for months, I decided to drop the plan for GMAT prep as R1 for most of the universities which I targeted were over and I did not want to give time for GMAT further.
I was following MBA Crystal Ball’s YouTube channel.
I read very good reviews about MCB in Quora. From the very beginning, I was determined to work with MCB even if their package is a bit pricey.
I contacted Manish Gupta sir during September end and received quick response. He was curious to know about my post MBA career goals.
He shared one of the applicant’s story with me. I also found other stories on the MCB blogs.
All stories were unique but there was one commonality among them – all the applicants were mothers. I always have self-doubts about pursuing MBA but their stories have motivated me a lot.
By mid-November, I contacted Manish Gupta sir for 3 school admissions consulting package (University of Bath, Durham University and Lancaster University) and he assigned Avinash Kaparekar sir for my MBA application.
Avinash sir made me to follow a structured routine right from having brainstorming call to the final application which helped me immensely while looking after my infant.
I am grateful to Manish Gupta sir for this that he assigned Avinash sir for my applications. I highly appreciate his professionalism and humbleness.
After the brain storming call for an hour, I wrote down few short stories based on my work experience and Avinash sir helped me to identify the best out of them.
I chose the B schools in England where GMAT is not mandatory. The selection of the B schools was mainly from the list I found MCB’s website and I checked their rankings in FT.
Though after Brexit, the FT rankings for b-schools in UK have changed drastically and many universities which used to be in top 100 list have been moved out.
I applied to Leeds university business school along with the three. I did not apply to Edinburgh and Strathclyde because of location preference.
Here, I give a very brief about pros and cons of the business schools that I applied:
|1. Good location (in terms of distance from London)
2. Four multi project suit in different industry
3. Good professors with quality research work (searched in google scholar, I index and h index)
4. Three-year careers support
|1. Alumni network
3. Average merit of the cohort
|1. Russell group university
2. Good job placements (94%, that’s what they claimed during an webinar)
3. Very good reputation in the UK
2. I received mixed feedback from the current students
3. Bad male-to-female ratio in the cohort (18% female participation)
|1. Consistently in top 100 FT rankings (except in 2020)
2. Good reputation in UK and Europe (received feedback from amazon employees)
3. University focuses on the undergraduate degree, marks and university (this is my observation from LinkedIn)
4. Participants from commercial and investment banking background in recent cohorts
5. Known for corporate strategy module
|1. No diversity in terms of nationalities. 99% are Indian students
|1. Russel group university
2. One of the largest cities in UK
good location for employment, good for banking finance jobs
3. Career farm
4. In terms of merit of the cohort, better than Bath
5. Participants from commercial banking background in recent cohorts
|1. FT Ranking
We had seven rounds of iteration for Bath’s SOP and my strengths, post MBA career plans and motivation to pursue MBA were narrated well in a story format.
The Lancaster MBA application was a bit tricky one as it needed to be short and compact and we had about five iterations for this.
Writing SOPs for MBA application was way harder than I even expected but Avinash sir’s timely response, inputs made it easier.
I availed interview package from MCB when my application was shortlisted for interview for Bath. I was provided with a set of questions for the interview prep by Avinash sir. During the mock interviews, most of the questions were asked out of the question set as to prepare me for the surprise effect of the actual interview.
After my interview with Bath, it took about a month for interview dates for Lancaster and Leeds. I availed the mock interview prep package from MCB for second time, as most of my time spent in relocation work (Bangalore-Kolkata-Cambridge) and I was completely out of touch for the upcoming interviews.
Hadn’t I availed the interview prep, I might not have the scholarships today. I got quite a few similar questions from the mocks I had with Avinash Sir, for my Bath interview.
I was asked mostly about financial crisis 2008, Raghuram Rajan’s research work predicting the crisis and about nationalization of banks in India, my transition from IT to banking during my Leeds interview conducted by one of the professors in Economics.
This is one of my best interview experiences as the topics are of my interest.
The Lancaster interview process was of two rounds. 1st round was a pre-interview video and the 2nd round was taken by the MBA program director.
All interviews were 30 minutes long. Most of interview results came after a week except Bath, which came in after two business days.
I got offers from Bath, Lancaster and Leeds. Lancaster and Leeds offered my scholarships of 25% and 24% respectively. I did not apply for scholarship for Bath as I already decided not to go with Bath for my MBA.
I did not get offer from Durham. I assume this is because of letter of recommendation. I applied to Durham in R2. I uploaded LORs from my managers without any letter head.
I did not get any response about a month and decided to drop and apply fresh with one LOR from my professor and one LOR from my previous manager.
While one of my managers helped me from posted abroad, to my utter surprise, another recommender did not co-operate with me. Without wasting time, I contacted my professor after 10 years since I graduated. My LOR was ready within a week.
With the new set of LORs I applied to Lancaster and Leeds.
During my final interview with MBA program director of Lancaster, she mentioned about the application as ‘outstanding’. I could not believe my ears.
I can’t express my happiness in words when I got admits with scholarships. After the conditional offer received from Lancaster University, I was asked either to submit a pre-course essay.
From the beginning I was determined to be selected in any top 100 MBA programs. Without a GMAT/GRE score, such option is very limited in UK.
But my hard work, determination, support from my husband and Avinash sir and my motivation to raise my son without compromising on my career, made it to Lancaster University- ranked 76th MBA program in the 2022 global MBA rankings.
With the admits and scholarships I got, my concerns about paying for a good MBA consultant have been more than addressed.
I have set a few career paths ahead after my MBA; my preference is to join financial risk management and then move to investment banking after that.
In conclusion, the two most important lessons which I learnt through my MBA applications journey.
Firstly, there is no scope for complacency in life if somebody is career-oriented, coming from a PSB back ground, I can vouch that the real job security is to find another job. And this is only possible if you are up-skilling yourself and ensuring that your current job is enabling you for that.
Secondly, our day-to-day jobs may not always leave us enough opportunity to understand what the broader professional world has to offer, but it is important to broaden your horizon even if it is just to understand what opportunities exist in spite of the fact that your current situation in your life constraints you.
Drop us an email if you’d like us to help with your university applications or you need some career counselling: info at mbacrystalball dot com
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