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MBA after 13 years of work experience: How I got into India’s top MBA for executives

MBA after 13 years of work experience

The number 13 isn’t everyone’s favourite. And when we’re talking about MBA applicants, 13 years of experience isn’t very attractive to most business schools either.

But Gaurav had made up his decision. He wanted an MBA and he was going to get it, no matter what his quantum of experience implied.

He shares his desire of getting an MBA after 13 years of work experience and his admissions journey of applying to the top business schools in USA and India.

MBA after 13 years of work experience

Applying to MBA programs in India (IIM) and USA

by Gaurav Mishra

Brought up by my single mother, we had to fight tough financial conditions right from my childhood. Having seen such acute challenges and shortage of resources from close quarters, I was certain that education is the best tool I have at my disposal to alleviate the situation.

I was on a scholarship in my school since class 1 and in order to ensure that the scholarship continued I had to not only ensure that I ranked in the top 5 in my class but also represent the school in various inter school competitions in science, history as well as sports.

My continuous endeavor to excel on all fronts while maintaining good grades and the help I received from the people while growing up made me into the person I am today: resilient, self-motivated, resourceful and empathetic towards society.

I have 13-plus years of experience in providing IT consulting and services in Retail, Supply Chain and Logistics Management. During this time, I have assisted more than 10 Fortune 500 companies in setting up and optimizing their delivery networks.

These experiences have given me 360-degree exposure to the Supply Chain and Logistics industry. Also, I rose early to leadership roles and have always led people more senior to me. My resilience, empathetic approach and resourcefulness, have helped me develop the ability to win people’s confidence and build workability.

MBA in USA application experience

In order to further hone my leadership skills, I decided in the year 2015 that I wanted to do an MBA. Since I also had onsite aspirations at that point in time, I was targeting programs in the US.

With my hectic work schedule, I was not really able to do justice with my studies and scored a meager 650 in my first GMAT attempt in 2015.

But then I had a really good profile and hence I applied to a few BSchools including MIT, Purdue Krannert, Michigan Ross, MSU Broad School, and Case Western Reserve university.

While I got interview calls from all the colleges, I was waitlisted by MIT (which didn’t clear ultimately) and I got admission letters from Purdue and Case Western with scholarships.

I was excited about the offer from Purdue but unfortunately wasn’t able to secure a loan from any banks to fund my education. So I continued to progress in my career while keeping an eye on my finances and making sure that I try again when the time is right.

Ultimately in 2022, post the mayhem called COVID, I decided to go for it again. As luck had it, I scored 650 once more but this time the biggest difference from the past was that I was sitting at an experience of 13 plus years.

Almost all B-Schools in the US shut their doors for candidates with this years of experience, except for the Sloan programs at Stanford, MIT and LBS, which by the way cost a bomb at INR 1-2 crore.

MBA in India for executives was a better fit

The best options were actually closer to home, namely IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta, with their full time 1 year programs for executives.

I also realized that this might be my last attempt at doing an MBA and hence didn’t want to take any risks.

Hence I took time off of regular work and prepared for the GMAT again and managed to score a 690. This time I was quite close to the class average for both IIMA and IIMC and I started preparing for my application.

I have a firm belief that I am very good at English, which also reflects in my scores in English grammar and literature till 12th as well as in my GMAT Verbal and IELTS scores.

So I decided to write the essays on my own and get them reviewed by my immediate supervisor at Acuver Consulting, who happens to be the CEO of Acuver and an IIM Bangalore graduate.

As expected, I wrote the essays beautifully and sent for reviews. What happened next opened my eyes for good.

My boss called and explained that the essay was very beautifully written, sprinkled with ornamental words and captivating story, all of which would do no good to my chances at the colleges I chose.

He explained to me that this was not a grammar or literature competition. What matters most is the structure, the tone and the seamless flow of story from one section to another.

Also, my essay wasn’t reflective of the right tone for my experience because I was taking it emotionally rather than taking the task objectively. I understood what he wished for me to take from that talk.

Why I wanted an admission consultant

I was already tasked with defending a GMAT score which was slightly below the class average and I needed an excellent application in order to be noticed with that score.

Of course I had an outstanding profile and career progression, but in order to talk about that, you need to make it till the interview rounds!

So I started looking for some professional help in structuring and mentoring my essays.

I was very clear with one thing though, I did not want anyone to write the essays for me. I know my stories and I have penned them down. I just needed someone who could mentor me on the structure, tone and seamlessness aspects for the essays.

I rejected a few admission consultants who insisted that they write everything from scratch so as to ensure a common narrative over the entire application.

Then I connected with the MBA Crystal Ball team and Manish Gupta got in touch with me. I explained to him in detail about my disposition and highlighted the fact that I only had 15 days to submit my IIMC application for Round 2.

I must say that it was a very brave decision by Manish that he accepted the proposal and said he would assign someone to work with me on my application on such a short notice. I too had my own inhibitions before making the payment.

Firstly, services at MCB cost more than the others who were proposing to rewrite my essays.

Secondly, I saw in most of the online reviews for such professionals that they make all kinds of promises before the payment. But later one has to face either delayed responses or work with a mentor who himself has just 2-3 years experience and is working based on some ready templates.

I discussed both my concerns with Manish. While the cost of service remained the same, he assured me that the second scenario will not happen and that the cost has been kept at that level to ensure that scenario 2 doesn’t happen.

Like many successful applicants whose stories I had read on the MBA Crystal Ball blog, I too took a leap of faith and completed the payment process.

What happened next was very close to a miracle – because not only did the MCB team assign the most appropriate person to work with me but we also completed the whole application process 2 days before the deadline!

The MCB team assigned Mr. Avinash Kaparekar to mentor me with the application process for IIM Calcutta. Avinash himself was a PGPX graduate from IIM Ahmedabad and had an experience of around 15 years when he decided to do his MBA.

So Avinash was quickly able to understand my present situation, quickly assessed my current application materials and started working with me from day one. He was very prompt in his responses, not wasting a single day.

The best part was that he came up with a plan for deliverables and religiously stuck to the plan. We generally had a quick catch up in the morning to discuss the structure for a particular essay and some tips and tricks.

I used to work on my essays during the day and submit for his review by evening. He came back with the review by late night and next morning I had another essay to write and the previous day essay comments to incorporate.

I was amazed at how he managed a full time job while being so engaged with my application. At the end of the 13th day I was really in a position to submit my application.

My boss at Acuver gave it a thumbs up and said that this is the kind of SOP and resume that would help you get noticed by the admissions committee even with a subpar GMAT score.

He was right!

I got an interview call from IIM Calcutta and this time I approached Manish very confidently for the MBA interview preparation.

I was delighted when Avinash was assigned for the interview prep as well. This not only saves me a lot of time from explaining my profile to the new person but also helps leverage the established connection during application stage and jump into prep quickly.

The MBA interview preparation materials I got from MBA Crystal Ball and the mock MBA interviews themselves were of great help in my journey towards one of the most coveted B-Schools in India.

Meanwhile, I also got shortlisted by IIM Ahmedabad for an interview and had to submit the essays and resume on a very short notice.

I again reached out to Manish and after a few formalities, Avinash helped me structure my essays for IIMA as well.

Eventually, I was delighted to see an offer of admission from IIM Ahmedabad. I shall be immersing myself into the PGPX journey at Ahmedabad this year.

This would not have been possible without the sacrifices that my wife and son made for around a year while I was preparing for GMAT and then busy with my applications and interviews, all the while eating into their personal time over weekdays and weekends.

The other significant help was from my engineering college roommate for four years and my best buddy who is also a PGPX graduate from IIM Calcutta, from my boss at Acuver Consulting and from the MBA Crystal Ball team, especially Manish and Avinash, my mentor and now would be fellow PGPXer at IIM Ahmedabad.

Update: A few days after this was published, Gaurav shared the exciting news that he got into IIMC too.

Drop us an email if you are aiming for the top MBA programs and need some help in presenting yourself in the best possible light: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

Also read:
MBA in India or MBA in Europe after 10 years experience
Indian employed in the US heads to IIM MBA after 30 in India

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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 13 years of work experience: How I got into India’s top MBA for executives”

  1. Hi, I have nearly 16 years of experience in software development. I have a strong desire to peruse MBA and continue my career as a leader in IT. However due to lack of information I am I am confused and not able to take a tangible decision. I have lost the touch for preps and needs a thoughtful conversation with a mentor.

    Gaurav’s story is inspiring and my situation is alike. I would like to know if it is reasonable to go for MBA from a top grade college in EU at this time in life.

    Kind Regards


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