This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a bit about yourself: Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What other degrees do you hold?
Vikas: I am of Indian heritage but was born and brought up in Dubai, UAE and lived outside India all my life. I moved to the US in 2000 for my undergrad at Michigan State University (Go Green! Go White!!) and studied electrical and computer engineering. Third year into my undergrad, I realized that I didn’t like engineering as much as I liked interacting with people but I also realized that I was passionate about technology. I completed my engineering coursework and my first job in the US was in Sales for a Software company in DC that allowed me to pursue my passion for technology while working with people.
Accepted: Which other schools were you considering? What tipped the scales to favor IMD?
1. Once you attend the one day assessment at IMD with 5-6 people from different nationalities, backgrounds, professional experiences, you realize how IMD’s teaching style is truly based on “Real World…Real Learning” – you learn just as much from your classmates as you do from your professors, and your classmates are mid-level to senior level managers from large global MNCs, entrepreneurs, PHDs, scientists and people who have an average work experience of 7-8 years working in 2-3 countries.
2. Leadership at IMD – I had always heard about IMD’s leadership stream being one of the best in the world but I can tell you 6 months into the program, that IMD’s leadership stream is not simply the best but is one of a kind. It challenges you to rethink who you are, your personality, and helps you discover not just the conscious parts of your personality and leadership but also the subconscious and helps you understand how people perceive you. This knowledge can really help you become a better leader, team player, communicator and motivator in a professional environment.
3. Small class size – I meet my 90 classmates every day for almost 75% of the program. We sit in the same classroom, we eat together and we spend long long hours together. The bonds and connections that are formed from that level of interaction and intimacy are incredible. We are a small community of MBAs and alumni (even though our extended network is probably one of the biggest) however, based on my experience so far and during the application process last year, I can guarantee you that every MBA alumni or student would respond to any request of help in less than 48-72 hours…some would even welcome the opportunity to help you and meet you. My mentor and advisor since last year is an alumnus from the class of 2008! He not only helped me with the application process but also continues to be a good friend, mentor and advisor and this is the power of the IMD class size and ‘tight-knit’ MBA community.
Accepted: What do you think are some of the advantages of attending a one-year MBA program? Are there disadvantages?
Vikas: The advantages –
1. Focus on general management.
2. The shorter duration obviously helps you get back to the real world sooner.
3. The intensity really helps you push yourself to the next level and challenges you every day and every minute.
The disadvantages –
1. Lack of specialization – If you are looking for a specific functional role/industry post-MBA that requires expertise in Finance (for instance, VC, investment banking, etc), a one-year program might not help an individual with no background in those areas.
2. Intensity – the intensity is great for some people but can be too much for others.
Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about living in Switzerland? Do you plan on continuing to live and work in Europe after you receive your MBA?
Vikas: Switzerland, specifically Lausanne is a very cool, calm and beautiful place….really facilitates and helps in the learning process. IMD is located on the lake and every day, I get to see the Swiss Alps and the lake on my way to school. Yes, I plan on continuing to work in Europe but probably in a bigger city (only because that’s my personal preference).
Accepted: Can you recommend a nice coffee shop or other place that’s good for hanging out and/or studying in Lausanne?
Vikas: The good thing about IMD is that we are provided a 5-star hotel level lunch every day (included in the fees) throughout the year by a Michelin star chef and team! Coffee, tea, nespresso, hot chocolate, etc are all available whenever we want on campus…..we barely ever use coffee shops because we are in the IMD “dungeons” most of the time :-). The campus is beautiful, dynamic, green and sophisticated-modern, so we barely find the need to find a coffee shop……ask me about a bar and that’s a different story :-).
Accepted: What was the most challenging step for you in the MBA admissions process? How did you approach it and overcome it?
Vikas: The one day assessment can be really challenging because it requires thorough preparation. As part of the one day assessment you have an impromptu case, a prepared case (they send a week before the assessment), admissions interview and lunch with a current student. Additionally, the 11+ essays in the application and the short word count really makes you think about your skills, achievements, weaknesses, personality, etc in very different light.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for IMD, see our IMD 2014 MBA Application Tips.