My Journey to ISB

Now when I have decided that I will be joining ISB (Indian School of Business) in April, I thought of writing the whole story down. I want to share my story of why I applied to ISB again and again and why was an MBA so important to me. Ok, I know "An MBA is just a means to an end and not an end in itself". It's just that with each passing year, my aspirations changed and what started as a necessity without reason became a reason for my career progression.

How it all began

In my final year of engineering I decided to write the Common Admision Test (CAT) for admission to IIMs (Indian Institute of Management). I pursued engineering from a well recognised college and for some random reason wanted a brand for my MBA too. So IIMs were the obvious choice. Little did I know the significance of an MBA and just wanted to follow the herd going into the Goldmans, Lehmans and McKinseys. But anyhow, I just did not want "some" job. I wrote CAT and secured a decent enough percentile, that was good enough to satisfy MDI but my verbal was not good enough for any of the IIMs. I sat for MDI interview and cleared it. Then the IIM bug hit me again and decided that if I ever do an MBA, it will be from a top school.

I joined one of the largest IT Services firm in India. I excelled at work and at the same time, religiously wrote CAT every year. CAT for me became a routine, like a festival that "has" to be celebrated every year. Every time I was stuck with 98 something percentile, not good enough for IIMs. Man! High population has its own effects.

2 years passed. It was November again and I screwed up CAT. Again. Then I looked at ISB as an "option". Ok, I have some idea what I want to do with my life and an MBA was utterly necessary. ISB's R2 deadline was due Jan 15 and I had one month to prepare. This preparation included writing GMAT and the essays. Tough task. But I decided to give it a shot. It was pure gamble with my career. In fact, I should give this warning to my readers "Don't try this at home!!!" I wrote my GMAT in a month's time on Jan 5 2005 and secured a 710. In another 10 days ISB app was in. I received an interview call, screwed it up and the result was an obvious Ding.

The Second Attempt

The first attempt was an eye opener. I realized that there is something that I lack and that something was professional maturity. I would only gain that with proper experience. I decided to take additional responsibilities at work, looked at the bigger picture always and thus gained some good recognition.

But still, there was something missing. I needed something different now and decided to make a move to another company that would provide me with a completely different exposure. I joined a product firm in a dvision that was formed after that giant acquired a startup. This was something unique. I always looked for opportunities to contribute towards a change in my organisation that I work for. This helped me in two ways. Excellent recognition, fast promotion and greater responsibilities were one. At the same time, I strengthened my application for an MBA.

Till the year before this I was religiously writing CAT. The CAT festival was celebrated every year.

Then came sanity and I wrote another ISB application. In R2. Same story again. Interview followed by a Ding. This was a setback. I was pretty sure this time but something went wrong.

My Confidence

By this time, I had started doubting my abilities. Maybe I am not an MBA material at all. Let's excel at what I have. But it was temporary. I kept telling myself that I am strong and I have to get into my target industry (why MBA). M/B/B (Guess) became my dream and I firmly believed that I am an MBA material. In 2006-2007 I strengthened my application. I spent a lot of time on introspection and assigned "Why?" to everything that I had done in life till then. This helped me a lot.

I wrote the admission test for Mensa and cleared it.
I started this blog and focused on improving my writing skills. (Ok maybe I'm not too god now also but you should have seen how I wrote 3 years ago)
I got a substantial international work experience.
I made significant positive changes at my work place.
I wrote GMAT again. (You may ask why again after a 710. I had some reasons)

I was back on my feet again.

The Third Attempt

Should have been my last attempt. I wanted to leave no stone unturned. I wrote GMAT again. I worked harder on my essays and was ready.

Of course, it was a different time and I was admitted. I had achieved what I wanted to and am now prepared to begin another journey. Although I felt a sense of achievement, I knew it was not and is a new beginning in my professional life.

The ISB admit means a new beginning. It means that I am capable. It means that I am part of a group from whom I have a lot to learn from. It means I am in.

Tuck did not like me

Before the 20th of December, I was eagerly awaiting Tuck's decision. Although the hope was only 5% since I was not even called for interview, a positive side of my heart expected a positive result. On hearing that Tuck has a history of admitting some internationals without an interview, I was hoping for the best. There were a lot of positives I could think of: I applied in EA round (showing that I was ready very soon), I traveled to Delhi to attend Tuck Reception (I am working in Hyderabad) and my application was my personal best at that time. I so much wanted to join Tuck.

But all in vain.

I got a ding. Without an interview. Was my application that bad that they didn't even call me to have a chat?

I checked my result on Saturday morning (IST). Before this result, I was hopeful of joining Tuck. Having an admit from ISB, I wanted that "international" experience and therefore, was more inclined towards joining Tuck. But then ISB it was. I was destined to join ISB.

Now I am not sure whether I should apply to any more US schools or not. When I got my ISB admit, I had nearly completed my Tepper application. But I stopped after my result. There are many factors that are pushing me towards ISB and away from US Schools. Some of them being the high cost of a US MBA compared to ISB's and lesser number of jobs in US for internationals in these times. Still thinking.

Maybe by this year end I'll put in another app. Maybe not. Am very confused.