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Asked Linda

June 6, 2008

Have you ever thought of taking professional help for your MBA applications ? The thought just crossed my mind (though I’m sure I’ll never avail). Reason being a very kind and generous (and honest) response from Linda Abraham on a BusinessWeek forum to my queries on profile evaluation and selection of colleges. Though I think I knew the answers deep down, she has reinforced the same and it makes me come back to the same thought process – What do I want after an MBA ? I am very clear on why I want to do an MBA, and what I want from an MBA, but still vague about the above question.

More about Linda –
Thanks so much ma’m for your time.

I post here my queries and her responses below, see if you identify to any extent with them – (red/blue – Linda)
Would really appreciate if you can evaluate my profile and lend your valuable comments.
Indian IT Male – work ex. of 5.5 years (worked with 2 top MNCs), have worked for reputed clients ranging from finance to retail to CPG, though my core experience is in IT consulting and IT management life cycles. In a leadership role with multiple responsibilities since the last 2 years with 1.5 years international experience(europe), and professional awards in almost every year of work.
Academics – Good acads, Engineering from NIT with 76%, which will put me in the top 10% in a batch of 400.(GPA conversion yet to be done)
EC – A lot of awards and certificates in inter-school, inter-college dance and singing competitions and some literary events. Nothing significant at workplace apart from being one of the many active members of a fun club which organises some events periodically at workplace.
GMAT – 770(balanced)/5.5
Why MBA – LEARN and challenge myself, transcend from core technical base to a role where I can harness my skills aptly.
The red part is too broad and general to be meaningful. You could study any number of subjects and “learn and challenge yourself.” It doesn’t answer “why MBA?” What does “harness your sklils more aptly” mean? What skills? You need to be more specific in answering that question for real, both in interview and essays.
Goal – General Management with a focus on Strategy Consulting.While you are clearer than the person I was referring to in “MBA Admissions: What is a goal?” I think you would still find that post helpful.
Colleges shortlisted –
US – Stanford, Wharton, and still researching to finalize 3-4 more out of Kellogg, Ross, MIT Sloan, Columbia, Tuck, Yale, Stern, Chicago
Outside US – Cambridge(Judge), Oxford, INSEAD
Query – Please be brutally honest and comment upon my selection of colleges, and pls suggest the colleges which I should add to this list (in US).
Good options. I would pick Kellogg, Ross, Tuck, and MIT Sloan, or Yale.
Thanks a ton !
You’re welcome. Good luck!

Follow up, Q. 2 –
Thanks Linda for your inputs.
For ‘why mba’ and ‘goal’, though I would obviously expand on my skills etc., I have a query for you –
Given my situation and work ex., its been tech. and IT heavy and I’ve excelled at it. My takeaways are – demonstration of my excellent analytical skills, experience of leading teams and mentoring people, teamwork, dealing with ambiguity, managing work, people and situations, and adaptability with working across geographies, to name a few.
Now I understand that these skills will come in handy in whichever industry I work for, and not just IT. What I do not know honestly is which other industry or function will be a better fit for me (cos I don’t have any other exposure), and hence, I feel that since I understand the expectations from general management and probably strategy consulting, they will be closer to my preferred roles after mba.
So my query – my ‘real’ reason for doing an mba is to get a holistic business education, and in the process evaluate if something else interests me more (maybe some aspect of finance, maybe brand management in marketing, etc.), and not just be limited by my IT background. If I state this as my goal, won’t it sound very hazy as being specific is essential in mentioning your reasons ?
That’s exactly my concern.
You wrote in your previous post that you have worked in multiple industries. Can you focus your goal somewhat based on your exposure to those different industries? Didn’t some appeal to you more than others? Can you try to determine a likely or desirable career path in one of those industries that had greater appeal? Now is a great time to ask for a few informational interviews to learn about a specific industry. Have you noticed how many posts there are in this thread from Indians in IT who want to go into strat consulting? Frankly there are an equal percentage in the MBA applicant pool. Do you want to sound just like all of them? somewhat vague and undirected?? Do the research now to clarify a most likely or most desirable single path. You are not signing a contract and can do some exploration in b-school. But also realize that b-school is only two years long and that recruiting for that crucial summer internship begins in the fall of the first year. You won’t have a lot of time for exploration and research when you arrive at a top-ranked b-school. The time you invest now could big time not only in the short-term, but in the longer term.
Also, my ‘real’ goal would be – something that I would like to do – work and lead in the NFP sector and make a difference (I know that’s again too broad). Again, wouldn’t such a goal sound far-fetched and distant from reality, since I have absolutely no exposure in this area ?
It would. You can either get involved in an NFP now, which again does not give you a lot of time, or stick with a for-profit professional goal, perhaps supplemented by a NFP commitment.
Thanks for your time.
You’re welcome. Good luck!

Well , so thats how it is. I just took a quick look, and with all due respect, is too costly for me ! I’m sure the costs would be justified and Accepted will do a real good job, but its not for me.

I can’t let others help me out here. I’ve always been like this, good at what I do and a very ‘generalist’ person to be interested in only one specific area. I cannot see it as a strength at the moment, and it may become the difference between my getting in or being left out. Scary thought.

Any techie who has worked in the Indian IT industry would know how much industry knowledge are we able to gather as a part of our work. I have worked for a project in the finance sector for 2 years – so how much of finance did I learn ? Yes there was a basic course in asset management that we all had to do, we learnt about the options and the futures and a few things more, but then, how much did I learn ? I can go through the web and learn those things again in a day, but would that constitute experience in the finance industry ? Absolutely not, as far as I’m concerned.
For over 3 years now I’ve been working with a top client in the Consumer Packaging and Goods Industry, in the Distribution sector. Does it mean I have a good understanding of this industry ? Hardly ! Not that I haven’t tried, I can read a lot of literature on it, but that won’t qualify me, right ? So what do I do ?
My experience has been in the IT services. I have led people. Mentored them. Managed multiple projects. Dealt with customers. Have solved acute problems. I can say with a degree of certainty that I have an experience in IT project management. But this isn’t what I want to do post MBA. I want to apply my skills above, all of them, and a lot more, but how do I state with clarity what role or position or industry will help me in achieving that ?

I know. With limited options, I need to introspect further and find out the correct fit for me. Something that I would not just like to do after an MBA, but also something that I can highlight from my current experience which will be logical. I can think of remaining in the tech. industry, or supply chain management , for that matter.

The essays and interviews would be about convincing the school. First, I need to be convinced myself, and make the right choice.

Do you have any inputs on this ? If I come across as completely unclear about my goals, I’ll attribute it to the Indian IT industry – this is what it does to sane people like me. Leave me with no choice.

So, onto more research. Wish we had a google for our brains and our minds, and I could select the I’m lucky option.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Abraham permalink
    June 6, 2008 10:42 pm

    Thanks for your gracious feedback.

    I think you’re on your way. Just to clarify…

    Neither I nor the schools expect you to know your target industry the way you know IT. But perhaps something clicked with you that made you more interested in a given industry. That’s the direction you should pursue at this point in time.

    The rest of your post tells me you’re on your way. You know you need to clarify your goals. Yes you need to introspect, but you also need to research externally, by that I mean reading, but also talking to colleagues in the field that is at the moment most appealing.

    Good luck!

  2. blogicallyspeaking permalink
    June 9, 2008 4:41 pm

    Thanks once again ma’m. I do have some clarity now, am researching a lot, and I think am finally moving in the right direction.

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