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.


Anonymous said...

Inspiring!! Truly inspiring!!
Forget everything abt Tuck and IIMs and enjoy the place where you have wanted to be at for last three years

Sweta said...

I kind of digressed from the topic in my blog may be because I dint have enough courage to write about my past failures. :P

I was also into the CAT- annual ceremony :D

Anonymous said...

I know about the CAT festival, was religiously into it every year myself. Your story sounds so similar, except that ISB dinged me the third time around too :-). ATB, ISB is the school to be at. Keep blogging.

Ankit said...

Great going! It would have been bit more for fun had you included the lighter side of the journey as well. [e.g.: Our conversation in SBI before buying CAT 2005 application forms]

MBAlmighty said...

Wow, direct "dil se" post! Congrats man, make the most of the ISB experience! :)

Vamsi Reddy said...

dude..inspiring one...

Cant imagine the effort you wud have put in while simultaneously working.

All the best...

maverick said...

Awesome n truly inspiring. Congrats for your perseverance and the end result!

Anish Goyal, India said...

CAT festival...doubts on being MBA material...all sounds so familiar!
Quite funny also. I wrote CAT 4 years in a row...sometimes with 0 prep, sometime 50%, sometime 30% and once best...don't know much % but definitely not 100%.
Then decided to take 1st love. But didn't prepare religiously thinking about whether I'll go for MS or not. Joined a "product firm". At same time M/B/B started fascinating me. Went to US. Got some real picture. Dropped idea of MS. And then GMAT and ISB 1st u know!

Debashish Samal said...

All Indian stories are same....Ha ha...I wrote CAT thrice before I left India. Thank god CAT was not online otherwise I would have written it 7 times.

Gaurav said...

Dude, you were always an MBA material. And I am sure you will do gr8 at ISB and beyond. Wishing you all the best.
Congrats once again.

Dagny said...

Congratulation guys for making it to top 15 in the world!

ISB is really rocking.

MBAlmighty said...

Dude, is there an email id I can contact you at?

Rhiannon Rhythm said...

I loved the tag 'CAT festival'.....I follow it even now, more than a Diwali or Holi....:)

Another thing - You excelled and can revel in the joy being a part of that dream because tide was high and you kept holding on! And that made all the difference!
All the best for the Life - which is a far important celebration than anything else!

.:: Singh is Kinng ::. said...

Hey Nitin,

I hope u remember me.......Really dude, u inspire a lot. Reading your article, gets the other person motivated a lot.
Keep Rocking and Best of Luck!

DBWH said...

Nice post...Liked the term CAT festival. I remember telling my friend that he would have saved lots of money had he taken a 5 year subscription for CAT forms.He used to write CAT religiously every year without studying for an hour even. Keep blogging!!!


wats M/B/B