First Attempt: Yes
Can you tell us about your background please?
I graduated in 2013 from the College of Engineering, Pune, with a degree in electrical engineering. I got a job at Oracle in Bangalore. My parents were also in Bangalore at that point; they are still are in Bangalore. For me, it was a no-brainer, I thought “This is a fantastic job for me, I get to stay home. I’m going to take this job.” I looked at the financial benefits and decided this is the job I’m going to do. Within a year, in the middle of 2014, my parents said, “Why don’t you get an MBA?” They said they’d pay for my GMAT classes so why don’t I just go attend the classes, so I enrolled for the CrackVerbal classroom program at the Infantry Road center. I attended four classes and ended up quitting because I didn’t have that inherent motivation. Arun talked about having a strong “why” and I didn’t have that “why”. Whatever my parents said, it didn’t work. In the end, I fell into the drudgery of an IT job. I put on a lot of weight, became unfit, unhealthy. I used to play a lot of football in college, so one day, it just hit me. So, I bought a cycle and decided to use that to commute to work, which was 3km away. In the beginning, I stopped twice on the way, because I was not able to breathe, just covering that 3km on that cycle. This is something that is worrying for me, so I said, forget MBA, forget everything else, let me just get my health in order first.
What started as an exercise, just for the sake of getting fit, eventually grew into a passion. In 2016, I ended up in racing at the nationals. The entire journey I went through in these two years was fantastic. Not only did it help me get my life back on track but also gave me a lot of direction in terms of what I wanted to do with my career. After Oracle, by the end of 2014, I joined a cycling startup. I was the head of ecommerce there. It became India’s largest online cycling company. Then, I established my own startup in the performance apparel and wearable tech space, which was in place for two years and recently, the IP part and the entire supply chain got acquired by a business in Mumbai. So, that has been my professional journey.
What made you decide on taking up the GMAT?
Sometime in the beginning of 2017, when my company finished one year of operation, I started having difficulties scaling it up. Upto one point it is fine when you learn from mistakes. As people say, when you start a company, you learn from mistakes and keep growing, but after you enter the big league, those mistakes are just not allowed. That is when I felt I needed an MBA and that became my “why”. I figured that I wouldn’t be able to attend classes because work was pretty hectic, so, I enrolled for the online course at CrackVerbal. Because I had such a strong why, this time I was able to stick to the study plan which they prescribed to the T. Over a period of two months, I got done with my preparation and appeared for my GMAT for the first time. I got a pretty decent score.
When it comes to the GMAT, if you ask me what worked for me, I can say I just stuck to the study plan they had prescribed. A lot of times, you have that inclination to go and refer to the external study material or go and enroll for another four or five tests because all your friends are doing it, but I didn’t do it. I thought of just adhering to this study plan and it worked out well.
Any comments for students preparing to take the GMAT?
During the GMAT, I would say, don’t get too flustered when you get a question or two wrong. I’ll give you a personal example. I entered the test center and my AWA was fine and IR was okay, but I had done better in the mock tests. This started playing in my mind. So, I went outside, just washed my face and when I got back to the test for quant, I realized that I was two minutes late. When I started the test, I think the first question was a simple profit and loss question, but I still ended up struggling with it. And then you get into the trap of trying to predict: is this a 650-level question or 680 or 700-level question? Before that could become a catastrophe for me, I decided to focus on the question and take one question at a time and gave the GMAT. It worked well and I got a decent score in the first attempt.
What are the challenges you faced in the application processes?
One thing that I had done was, I overestimated the amount of effort that it takes to take the GMAT and underestimated the amount of effort that the applications would actually require. I got in touch with Arun and took his help to get done with my application for all the B-schools that I wanted to apply to and the first school that we decided was Kellogg. I happily looked at the leadership essay question I got and I wrote the essay. I felt quite confident about it, so I gave it to my dad. He did not give any immediate response, but I could gauge from his reaction that my essay was not working. When I got on a call with Arun to discuss the essay, there were a lot of changes. He literally changed the essay; he changed the story. My story was wrong, forget the grammar or adherence to word limit. It was evident that I was not focusing on the topic and that is when I realized that the entire process of filling the application is much more taxing than the GMAT preparation. I would suggest not to leave it for later. Start thinking about your “why” right now. It might help you later on when you are filling out the application.
Which business school did you finally choose and why?
I ended up applying to four US schools and one Canadian school. In the process of applying to different schools one by one, I became confident, especially since my GMAT score was good. One of the most difficult parts was the waiting I had to do to hear from the schools. After a long wait, I got an admit from Rotman and then I did not bother about applying for any other schools in round 2 because when I researched about Rotman as an MBA program, my “why” actually helped me decide that this school will be the right fit for me. What I like about Rotman is they have a creative destruction lab and an in-house incubator, which is one of Canada’s biggest tech incubators right now. As an entrepreneur, this got me excited. They also have a self development lab that focuses on developing its students’ soft skills. That’s not just a single semester course that you do, it goes on throughout the two years of your MBA program. I have been interacting with my peers since a while about how life is going to be in Toronto and I feel like I’ll get to learn a lot from my peers, which makes me even more confident about my choice.