Next up in our series of featured MBA applicant bloggers is Sanket, author of the blog, “My GMAT and MBA Journey…Freeing my mind from Fears, Doubts & Disbeliefs…Believing I CAN!!” Please enjoy Sanket’s thoughtful answers and use them to help you make your way through the MBA admissions process.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to school and when did you graduate; and what prior degrees do you hold?
Sanket: A Production engineer by education, an industrial engineer by experience, a passionate writer (three published articles, currently writing my first book), an amateur photographer, a student of Vipassana meditation for the last nine years, a volunteer, a blogger and let’s not forget, a big procrastinator (that GMAT is still pending). It’s not my name but what I do that defines me; but people call me Sanket!
I am Sanket. In Marathi (my mother tongue) Sanket means a symbol, an indication. So what do I symbolize? At any given point of time, any of the things mentioned above define me.
I belong to Sangli, a small town in Maharashtra. I completed most of my schooling and Junior college education in Nasik, Maharashtra, India and received my Bachelor of Production Engineering from University of Pune (one of the top ranked universities in Maharashtra) with First Class in Distinction, in 2005.
I started my career as a consultant (productivity improvement and lean manufacturing) with a relatively small boutique consulting firm. I worked there for 2.5 years and then moved to the automobile industry with Mahindra Chakan to understand the difference between knowing the path and walking the path, i.e. understanding the difference between recommending some things to clients and actually doing the things with my own hands. I worked there for 2.5 years, and for past year I have been working with Volkswagen, India. So, after investing almost six years in the manufacturing industry, I am ready to go to b-school to take my career to the next level.
Accepted: How long have you planned on applying to business school?
Sanket: How long? Do you ever think of “Time” when you are with your girlfriend? Time almost stops when she is around you, doesn’t it? If you are a photographer then do you ever think how long you have been waiting for that perfect click? The answer is NO. You are committed to the perfect click irrespective time. When you are totally in love with something, you seldom think of time; it becomes relative.
The same logic applies to my experience with the b-school application process. I am in love with this entire process. People say it is daunting but I ask them – How can the process of telling something about you be daunting? How can sharing your most profound experiences with the admission committee be time consuming? Whatever others say, I love the process, irrespective of the outcome of this year’s application cycle, I have loved it, the introspection provided lot of insights during the process.
To answer your question, I have been interacting with b-school students for the last three years. To date I have interacted with more than 100 students from more than 12 b-schools which of course include some of the top 10 schools. So a systematic approach and huge investment of time are at stake in this year’s application process. Surely, it was worth doing this!!
Accepted: Why do you want to go to business school? What are some of the factors motivating you?
Sanket: Let me tell you a story.
On my last birthday, we had a great party. When I was paying the bill (some thousands of rupees), I just thought – The amount of this bill equals to the monthly salary of a waiter who was serving us. Why the cost of my enjoyment for a couple of hours equal to the monthly salary of a common man? Why is there so much economic disparity? I remember Bill Gates’ speech on this subject at the Harvard Business School. He asked, “Why aren’t the brightest, most intelligent minds used to solve toughest questions in the world?” I don’t know, really I don’t know, how I am going to do it but my long term vision is to do something, at least play my part in closing the gap of economic disparity, especially in a developing country like India. In India we have lot of issues in front of us – education, career guidance, healthcare, and corruption. I am still understanding my true calling to focus on one of these issues because I cannot focus on all of them.
To understand the complexity in any one these issues, my knowledge of production engineering is very limited. Knowledge of business fundamentals along with transferable skills I have developed during my professional experience really will help in understanding these issues in-depth.
Also, I believe these issues are best solved with a public-private partnership than solely relying on the government. Through business, we can really find some great solutions to these problems. For example, the concept of “Reverse Innovation” by Professor Vijay Govindrajan has created evolution in creating cheapest healthcare products in rural India. So, essentially I want to be in the business of serving people at the bottom of the pyramid.
I know this is not a perfect answer to the career goals essay question but I am still working on it!
Accepted: Where do you plan on applying to b-school? What sort of criteria did you use in choosing where you’d like to attend?
Sanket: I have mentioned somewhere in my blog, that choosing a b school is analogous to choosing your life partner or girlfriend.
There is something about your girlfriend which only you can figure out; you somehow connect with her deeply enough to able to spend your entire life with her. It may not be possible to define that in terms of words or language, but you know somewhere deep inside that SHE is the one, you just know it! I mean if you ask me what it is about Genelia that makes her my favorite heroine, I may not be able to tell you, but it’s just there, something only she has. So my school selection is based on “Just want to be there schools,” as I told you, after lot of interaction with students and alumni from these category schools, I just know that I want to be there come what may!! Perhaps that is the only criteria I used in my b-school selection process.
These schools by default satisfied other important factors such as brand, value, resources and joint degree programs to achieve career objectives, the availability of a loan without a co-signer, no TOEFL requirement, team oriented and collaborative culture.
No wonder, last year, I got Clear Admit’s BOB award for “Best School Selection Advice.”
Accepted: Do you have topics in mind for your MBA application essays?
Sanket: Going by the B-School and Girlfriend analogy, in my opinion essays can be treated analogous to the way you propose to your girlfriend. Apart from knowing that there is something in her that attracts you, you also know that she is important to you.
Essay writing essentially starts with a lot of introspection. On my blog, I have several entries on this topic. For example, I maintain something I call “a book of dreams.” I always carry it with me and It essentially contains all the ideas I come across when I am travelling, brushing my teeth, taking a bath, drinking my coffee, volunteering and so on; it’s just a random collection of thoughts to understand my thinking pattern. This pattern identification has proved to be essential in the essay writing process.
To answer your question, surely I have finalized the topics for almost all of essays for my target schools. I am currently fine-tuning them to fit them into the word limits and let me tell you writing essays has been a wonderful experience.
Accepted: How important is a “name brand” MBA program to you? Are you only applying to top 10 programs?
Sanket: I am applying to some colleges in the top 10, but so called “brand name” and ranking are not only factors in choosing the schools.
My experience with current students and alumni, their involvement in answering my questions, their response time, their willingness and depth in answering my critical questions, their passion to share their b-school experiences tell me a lot about the b-school and the culture there.
For example, a couple of Tuck students wrote blog posts to answer my questions and former Chicago Booth Admissions Director Rose Martenelli wrote a post on her blog answering one of my questions. A Kellogg student remembered my name and contact number and gave me call when he was here for Diwali vacation. Another Kellogg student discussed my idea (we discussed his consulting project over mails, fortunately my current experience in the manufacturing industry was helpful to him) in his learning team at Kellogg.
I ask myself – If these people are investing so much time in me (still a prospective applicant) then how much more supportive will they be when I am part their community as a student??
These things mean a lot to me and such experiences help in narrowing down the schools. So, definitely not only “brand name” but these touchy feely experiences are important factor in my school selection.
Accepted: Why did you choose to blog about the MBA application experience?
Sanket: By this time, you must have understood, I love writing. I love sharing my experiences with others, I love learning through others’ experiences, their thoughts, and perspectives. So this blog was basically an attempt to connect with the rest of the MBA applicant bloggers and learn from their experience, at the same time share my perspective and learning in the process.
But the real impetus came from my experience in guiding a couple of friends in the application process. Last year, I helped a friend write his MBA application for AIM and another friend write his ISB application. We all worked together professionally, so I helped them choose the topics for the essays and critically reviewing their essays and choose the right schools for them. I also wrote a recommendation and so on.
Reflecting upon this, I thought that my experience can be really useful to some of my fellow applicants, so just started writing. Also this blog serves as practice (in terms generating ideas, developing and structuring them, as well as seeing the responses) for my upcoming book. I get lot of ideas for my book when I post on this blog, so it been a very wonderful experience.
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