This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Arun Prasad who will be starting at IIM-Calcutta’s PGPEX-VLM Executive Program in the fall.
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Arun: My name is Arun Prasad. I’m from Bangalore, India. I did my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from MVJ College of Engineering, Bangalore. I presently work for Cessna Aircraft Company in Bangalore. I have about 6 years of work experience in Design, Analysis and Manufacturing.
Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to IIM-Calcutta’s PGPEX-VLM Executive Program! Why did you choose that program? How is it the best program for you?
Arun: Thank you. I’ve always wanted to do a program that has a right balance between technical and management side of business. Something like a dual degree program. My initial Google search pointed me towards the MIT’s LGO (Leaders for Global Operations) and this happened to be my dream school. There were a couple of other schools like the Michigan Ross Tauber Institute and Kellogg’s MMM program and of course the PGPEX-VLM program.
PGPEX-VLM (Visionary Leadership in Manufacturing) happens to be the perfect blend of technical competence along with right management and business skills. PGPEX-VLM is jointly conducted by IIM-Calcutta, IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras along with few industry consortiums like the CII, JICA and the governments of India and Japan.
IIM-Calcutta, which is one of the country’s best and oldest B-school imparts the Business and Management skills whereas the IIT’s, which is the country’s best technical institution (IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras) imparts the technical skills. So, PGPEX-VLM just happened to be the right program for me and I did not apply anywhere else.
Accepted: What is your current job? Why are you pursuing an MBA at this stage of your career? What do you plan on doing post-MBA — will you stay in your current industry and move to another field?
Arun: I work as a Manufacturing Engineer for Cessna. I do the Process Planning for Aircraft Sheet metal components and assemblies. It’s a purely technical role that I am in. Somewhere within me there is an itching that I want to do something more than planning how to manufacture Aircraft parts. I felt I must be associated with an operations role or on the strategy side of business. Though I work as a part of the Integrated Supply Chain in Cessna, I’m not involved in making Supply Chain decisions. This is when I gave a thought of doing a MBA and PGPEX-VLM happened to be the right program for me.
Post MBA, I would wish to venture into the Supply Chain side of business and I’m looking at few consulting positions as well. One of the reasons I chose Supply Chain is that, irrespective of industry, there are always challenges. I am highly interested in Defense Procurement as well.
Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with online courses? How has taken MOOCs influenced your Executive MBA goals?
Arun: Online courses are really cool. It all started when I saw a TED talk show of Daphne Koller (Founder of Coursera). Being a working professional, I’ve always felt the need to learn and keep learning. These MOOCs are a boon for working professionals. It is such a great platform to take the world’s best course, right at your home, at your convenience, and for free!! I signed up for a couple of courses from Wharton, University of Michigan and Stanford and I was awed. The same course is taught by the same professors for regular full time MBA students at top b-schools though a little variations do exists considering class size.
I’m the kind of a person who first likes to try and then decide. I took these MOOCs to have a firsthand experience of what to expect in a b-school and whether the subjects/concepts resonate with my thinking. It did. So, taking these MOOC has had an influence in my decision to pursue an MBA program.
Accepted: What would you say was your greatest challenge in the application process? What steps did you take to overcome that challenge?
Arun: PGPEX-VLM is one unique program and so is the application. Apart from regular MBA application elements like test scores, essays, and interviews, PGPEX-VLM has a aptitude test that tests the candidates on the fundamentals of Engineering (after all, it’s a techno-managerial program). The aptitude test had a wide range of topics from higher mathematics, to differentiation and integration to matrices and statistics to mechanical engineering to electronics to electrical engineering to even computer science concepts. Pretty much everything that falls under engineering. This was my greatest challenge. So, I started reviewing my engineering fundamentals and my GRE preparation helped me the verbal and quant section. I also took help from my fiancé, Gayathri, who is pursuing her Masters in Electronics engineering to review electronics and electrical engineering fundamentals :). So, I had taken lot of time to review engineering fundamentals.
Another challenging area for me was essays. There were 2 essays and this was a challenging part for me. Firstly because I was very new to this and then there were tons of consultants who supposedly offer services for reviewing and editing essays for top b-schools. Going through the testimonials of these essay editing admission consultants was quite intimating. The only investment I did was I bought MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham. I think instructions in that are pretty clear and straightforward. I read that book a hundred times before I drafted my essays and kept fine-tuning it for a month. I showed it to my family and got their feedback. My father-in-law’s feedback proved to be highly useful and many changes were incorporated based on his suggestions. So, to review essays, one need not really take help of essay editing services. Family and friends could offer the best critique and sometimes bring in a fresh look that sometimes others easily miss out.
Accepted: Can you share some EMBA application tips with our readers? What are some tools or resources that you used to help guide you through the process?
Arun: 1. Self Introspection: Before choosing to do a MBA/EMBA program, a lot of introspection is to be done. There is a significant amount of cost and time involved in a MBA program. So, it’s worth to do introspection till we find clear answers. Just keep asking yourself if an MBA is something that you really want to do. Why MBA? Why not something else? Why now? What would happen if I didn’t do an MBA? This type of introspection and self-interrogation could lead to some clear answers.
2. B-School Selection Matrix: We all know that top b-schools follow a holistic approach in selecting candidates for their programs. Like, no admission decision is made solely on GPA or GMAT score or essays. Similarly, while choosing a program, as candidates, we need to have a holistic and a realistic approach, not just ranking of the b-school. Various factors to consider for a b-school before joining is whether it’s a one-year MBA or a two-year MBA, location (India or abroad), class size, class diversity, post MBA goals, “Program Fit”, cost of the program, return on investment. I had written a blog post titled “B-School Selection Matrix” in which I evaluate various b-schools of my choice and make a qualitative decision. It’s like, I design my own personalized b-school rankings.
3. Profile Building: The decision to pursue an MBA most likely shouldn’t be an overnight decision and it’s not possible to build an MBA profile overnight. I think profile building should be the first step in preparing your b-school application even ahead of taking the GMAT. You just need to get into the league of MBA applications, be aware of various schools, follow admission officers’ blogs and even applicant and student blogs, sign up for newsletters, etc. I had written a blog post titled “MBA profile Building” on this. Those who have weak communication can sign up for few courses to improve communication. Those having problems with GMAT should change their browser home page to www.gmatclub.com. Those who haven’t had a chance to display leadership skills at their workplace, may choose to organize a few events or show leadership skills in other events, like even sports. So, profile building is a long evolving process and one must start early and invest time on this.
When it comes to resources, I had purchased MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham. This book is great. I had also purchased Beyond MBA Hype by Sameer Kamat. There are some great resources out there on the net. I religiously followed Accepted.com blogs and used to attend several webinars. So, following these blogs, network of current students, following the newsletters of your target schools, following admission officer’s blog – these are some priceless resources and one must make use of these as much as possible.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Arun: The idea and thought that I must write a blog can be attributed to Accepted.com. I have seen several hundred applicant bloggers and student bloggers who have been sharing their experience. So, I decided to have my own blog.
I don’t have a target audience as such, but I write about GRE, higher education, MBA, MOOC, etc. So, if anyone is thinking about writing their own blog and needs some source of inspiration – they are my target audience!!
I have largely benefited from reading these blogs. Reading these blogs and the experiences have kept me going at difficult times and they serve as a source of motivation. Learning from others experience is one of the best learning ever. I follow a lot of applicant bloggers and benefit from their blog. So, this has been my biggest benefit from blogging.
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You can read more about Arun’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Aroundynamics. Thank you Arun for sharing your story with us!