After completing an MBA from one of the top Indian MBA colleges, some start feeling constrained and stagnated by their roles. That’s when the thoughts of getting a second MBA abroad from Harvard, Stanford and Wharton start popping up in the mind.
But not all top universities accept second MBA applicants. Age and experience can also stop applicants in their tracks, for the traditional 2 year MBA in USA.
A 2nd MBA from IIM or India (1-year MBA format) is a option for those who want to stay back in India. But what if you’ve set your mind on a jet-setting, international career?
Rahul Muchhal was among those who faced all these challenges.
My quest for a second MBA abroad after 11 years of experience
by Rahul Muchhal
I am an Indian male with 11+ years of work experience in sales and leadership roles (last 18 months of which have been at Hennef, Germany) pursing a techno entrepreneurship venture.
I did my first MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM, 2004) in marketing and worked with various FMCG organizations like Marico, Dabur and Coats plc. My last stint India was as with a media company – ENIL – Radio Mirchi (98.3FM) in Brand Activation as AVP- Experiential Marketing.
Although I had harbored the dream to pursue an International MBA since 2011, the thought become clearer when I moved to head an International business, I felt that to successfully lead this venture, an International leadership program is essential. Easier said than done though.
Having a work experience for more than 10+ years and being on the right side of 30, brings with it its own challenges. Most schools that I sent my profile/ CV/ resume to, did not really discourage me directly but replied back saying that currently they have students with average work experience between 4-6 years and I should look at their Executive MBA.
However I was not willing to settle for an executive MBA, even if it was among the best Executive MBA (EMBA) programs in the world. Having already done my MBA; I should have a very strong reason to do my second MBA abroad.
A couple of b-schools answered back stating that since I already have an MBA, I am not eligible to apply. So far so good!
However I did not get discouraged. I wanted time off to reflect on my learnings so far, unlearn few things and learn few new ones.
Researching for my second MBA abroad
I started my research and realized that only few programs fit the bill. I remember speaking to Sameer Kamat and he suggested me to look for the Sloan Fellows program conducted across three leading schools like MIT, Stanford and LBS. It seemed to fit the bill.
I also considered IMD Switzerland. I visited HEC Paris, and INSEAD, France. I started communicating with all of them. London Business School (LBS) replied back saying I would be fit for class of 2016 Jan and I am a year short of experience to apply for the program. MIT responded positively.
I was in big dilemma. For a regular MBA in USA or UK, I was too experienced. And for some really good leadership programs like Sloan Fellows, I was too young. However I decided to keep my communication open with them.
I have realized that bschools often gauge interest levels of the candidate in the program with the kind of persuasion levels. I researched more about this program, wrote to the Adcom members, read all possible information about the program on the internet. After all this I was quite determined that it is the right program for me.
I checked with them for a telephonic chat with one of the members from the Admissions committee to understand my fit for the program. MIT & LBS responded back and I had my first telephonic chat with an Adcom member from MIT in June 2014 for 45 minutes.
We discussed about my motivation to do an International leadership program and how this would help in my venture and in career immediately and in long term. We also discussed about my work experience so far.
Based on the discussion, she encouraged me to apply and the journey began in August 2014. I submitted my application in Round 1 on Nov 17th 2014. On 31st Dec, I got my interview invite.
My interview was scheduled for 14th Jan in New Delhi and I got my acceptance email on 5th Feb 2015.
The icing on the cake was the MBA scholarship that I got. A few days after receiving my acceptance call, there was another email mentioning that I had been awarded the Dean’s Fellowship in the amount of $15,000!
The application process was very important in my case, given the fact that I had not written my GMAT.
My GMAT waiver based on my past qualification, was approved in August 2014.
The most important and rewarding journey had begun. Every single thing from my essays, recommendation and additional information had to be very consistent.
Despite it being a 2nd MBA, I knew I needed help.
A long telephonic brainstorming call with Manish Gupta (MG) after my first initial draft, made it clear that I had the content but my narration was all over the place. There were too many things I was trying to communicate and a lot of work had to go in the essays to even qualify for first draft. I was far from being there. MG’s comments were blunt and straight to the point.
I consider this as the single BIGGEST reason for making the CUT whether it was for my mock interviews or essay drafts or the scholarship.
It changed my thought process completely. I stopped bull-shitting and covered all essentials aspects.
I had extremely good working relations with my ex-bosses. Most of them with 15+ years of experience with an MBA degree from IIM. I discussed all my essays with them thoroughly before each draft. In spite of this, MG’s feedback and review never ceased to amaze me.
Each of the MG’s review always came up with very relevant feedback and to the point. Somehow he exactly caught what I was missing. By the end of the second draft, I was simply floored and that actually helped quite a bit. I followed every single suggestion from MG very religiously and that made us a very good team.
I think I took much longer than what it would take to write essays but it had more to do with the fact that I had a very erratic international travel schedule.
However the thought process was always on. I spoke to my bosses whenever I got some time, wrote back to MG asking things (which he so promptly replied) and worked to improve my essays draft. I think I must have had at least 10 drafts for each of the essays. Every time I did something half-baked, he got it immediately.
I think I always dreaded opening his review emails but 100% of the times the feedback was so relevant that I started working on my essays immediately leaving everything aside, only after four-five hours of continuous work, did I feel a little relieved and when I had worked on 80% of his feedback. Somehow the feedback triggers my thought process immediately.
Hope you find my experiences useful.
Read these related posts:
– Second MBA abroad after IIM, ISB, other Indian programs: Pros and Cons
– When husband and wife study in the same MBA program abroad
– USA business schools accepting second MBA applicants from India
– Michigan Ross MBA admit for second MBA applicant
Thanks for reading and welcome to the sixth post in GMAT Club’s Essay Review Initiative brought to you by Critical Square. Every week or so throughout the summer we’re going to review, comment, and tear apart a real essay from last year. The streets will run red (with ink)! So grab a cup of coffee and read on – this is a great way to see how our admissions consultants, and effectively, an admissions committee looks at your essays. What we like, what we don’t like, and how to avoid mistakes that can sink your application.
If you missed the first reviewed essay on “Career Goals”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the second reviewed essay on “A Time You Took a Risk”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the third reviewed essay on “Tell Us About Yourself”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the fourth reviewed essay on “Duke’s 25 Things About You”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the fifth reviewed essay on “Why an MBA, why now?”, you can catch up [here]!
So, without further ado, our sixth essay!
The essay prompt:
Our sixth essay has the same essay prompt as the fifth one – what do you hope to get both professionally and personally from your MBA. Why do you want your MBA, why do you want it now, and what do you want to do with it. No curve balls. No surprises. Yet notoriously difficult to execute well!
(By the way – this essay prompt is being used for numerous schools again this year - FYI!)
So let’s dive into this week’s essay!
Higher education sector, though a social enterprise is like any other business function which is combating challenges such as lack of synergy between institutions, wastes that drive up tuition fees, low Gross Enrolment Ratio, a dismal employability rate of graduates etc.
First of all, we like how this applicant dives right into the issue and comes out swinging with the issue in the world they feel is important to them. But a few things to note. For one, the grammar is a bit off – things like missing commas and structure can really throw off a reader. Secondly, their listing of issues quickly goes from relatable to industry specific (ps – enrollment has 2 “L”s). We’d suggest moving away from the jargon – the “gross enrollment ratios” and what not. They might be real issues but do you REALLY want to be the applicant that uses “synergy” in an essay? Almost as bad as “plethora”. Oh, and don't use "etc."...c'mon, that's just lazy.
I see a huge demand for consulting in higher education and aspire to work as an educational consultant and help universities build a sustainable ecosystem to provide quality education. In long term, 7-8 years post my MBA, I wish to leverage the consulting experience and start a consulting firm that caters to these problems faced by the universities.
What the applicant has set the foundation for are general issues in the industry – not quite why consulting is the answer. Perhaps that’s because higher education (and be careful here – the applicant is APPLYING to a higher education program…) is run by educators and not business people? Whatever the reason, there’s a small leap in logic here that would ideally be explained. Also, the applicant introduces their long term goal but the question arises – isn’t the firm she or he joining doing exactly what they want to do already? If not, maybe they didn’t explain what kind of firm they would join or how there is a lack of firms like this in the market. Either way, again, a bit of a leap. Lastly, be careful with long term entrepreneurship goals. They can be dangerous!
My experiences have triggered and backed my decision to fire fight these problems. As a consultant, I strive to improve the processes of universities by leveraging technology to improve staff experience. As Global Moderator at GMATClub, I coordinate with B-schools Admissions team, write articles and mentor applicants for GMAT and application processes.
We have no idea what the first sentence means. It’s gibberish. Moving on…the second sentence addresses a potential client pain point that wasn’t even addressed early on so there is no foundation to support this statement. It might be true, but without an introduction, it comes flying in out of left field. The last statement about their interaction with business school admissions teams is interesting but they haven’t tied it to the issue itself. They’ve just used it to mention what they do. They had an opportunity to really drive in their experience but missed it. Also, the introduction of this statement also makes us question what this applicant currently does for a living – we don’t know their full profile but we’re suspicious that they have no educational experience which could be disastrous for their story here.
These experiences have equipped me with strong technical skills, analytical ability and customer empathy.
How has being a moderator for GMAT Club does any of these things other than showcase PERCEIVED customer pain points? Perceived is capitalized because the market hasn’t been tested for this hypothesis just yet.
But my understanding of business isn’t holistic owing to lack of formal training. I need more! I believe that the next two years are ripe years to invest time and money to hone and build required skill-set.
Jargon – all of this. 37 words wasted. We’d want more specificity here. A thesis.
Through an extensive research and interaction with [SCHOOL’s] students, I have understood how different attributes of the program tie with my pursuits. To succeed in this connected world, I need to understand various business functions and learn problem analysis from multi stakeholder perspectives.
Umm, ok? Again, there is no thesis so we’re not sure if the “connected world” statement is the first point they’re trying to make or not. Also, this is super vague. All business schools do this. That’s the point!
[SCHOOL’s] focus on teaching General Management skills will provide me the cross-functional skills, and the unique Leadership Development Plan with self and team assessments will give an insight into my strengths and weaknesses and help me evolve as a leader.
Again, the applicant isn’t saying anything new here. Cross-functional skills – yes, of course. Leadership development? Naturally. These are things ALL business schools do. Also – notice how the applicant hasn’t tied any of these things back to his / her goals.
I am keen to join Center for Business and Society and learn about the issues at the intersection of business and society.
This COULD be relevant to education consulting but it hasn’t been brought up before nor is it tied to the industry in any way. What could have been a strong statement has turned weak.
The closely knit [SCHOOL] community will allow me to interact with the University operations office and understand the issues faced by an Ivy League University. This affiliation will provide me an unparalleled experience and can give my firm an unprecedented credibility in the longer run.
Two things here. First of all, the tight knit community at the school has nothing to do with access to administration – so be careful there. They might be more accessible, but it’s an assumption. Secondly, talking to one school about one school’s issues won’t give a firm any credibility 10 years down the line.
With a goal to create a sustainable education system and having experience in the education sector both through the non-profit and for-profit organizations, I have garnered experience that can be useful to stimulate the growth of the Education club.
Don’t throw around words like “sustainable” willy-nilly. In this instance, it adds no value. Also, the applicant shouldn’t waste so many words talking about their experiences in this sentence – they should instead showcase how they would stimulate the growth. New initiatives? Growing something already there? Show off the passion of how you’d make a difference!
I find myself capable to integrate life on campus with the events in surrounding community and would join the Net Impact club as a Student Roundtable member. To [SCHOOL], I will be an individual with a desire to work for and with the [SCHOOL] community. In addition, I would love to continue my affiliation as an Alumnus and participate in programs under the Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Why does this applicant find themselves capable? That’s a strange thing to say. Becoming a part of the Net Impact Club is a good goal to have but why? How does that further their goals? The second sentence is just a waste of words. The last statement is equally unnecessary – they’ve only referenced entrepreneurship loosely in the desire to found their own firm and that’s 10 years from now. They don’t seem to have a strong entrepreneurial background now so their value add might be questionable.
Even though [SCHOOL] does not have a mould to find its students, I feel that if there were a mould, I would just fit in and would be shaped at [SCHOOL] to become a perfect fit.
Ok, to be honest – we see where the applicant was going here but goodness gracious is this a confusing statement. We’re all for ending on a strong, and unique, note but don’t muddy up the whole essay by ending with a sentence that makes the reader go back three or four times! Also, to the best of ability, when we DID figure out what the applicant was talking about, we think there’s something strange. We can’t quite put our fingers on it because, to a certain extent, it’s a weird statement, but it’s…off.
A FEW PARTING THOUGHTS:
This essay is there to test your research, goals, and maturity. While the applicant demonstrates his/her research of the abundant resources and opportunities available at this particular program, they weren’t exactly well thought out or always applicable in the context in which s/he positioned them. This shouldn’t be a “check the box” activity to list random classes, professors, or groups in your essay. Should this essay include those things? Definitely! Don't get us wrong, we love the specificity as well as the time and effort that went in to this, but there has to be a logical train of thought that connects the dots. Also, the interpretation of some of the value propositions that the MBA provides was debatable...
The prompt asks “what” and “why”, but don't forget about the “how”. This demonstrates your thought process around your case for consideration and the AdCom is certainly interested in this. The more specific you are in discussing how the intricacies of the MBA will help you with both your short and long term goals the better off you’ll be.
This essay is a common one for a reason. Not many people can clearly articulate the “what”, “why”, and “how” very well. We get it – it isn’t easy. But that’s exactly the point. It exposes those who haven’t taken the time to truly think through their future. Top programs aren’t looking for people to simply pad their resume with a brand name. They are looking for proven leaders who they believe can make an impact in the world, and this essay is your opportunity to prove to them that you are one of those individuals.
If you think your essay or resume could use a review or two, check out our Essay Editing and Resume Review services. Not sure where to start? Sign up for a free consultation instead!
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