Skip to content


July 3, 2008
tags: , ,

is one of the most dangerous pools to belong to if you are looking for an MBA abroad. Or even in India for that matter. If you are planning an application soon, lets see if you belong to this pool –

a) Are you an Indian with 15/16 years (& not more) of education from India and graduated from a college other than the IITs ?*
b) Are you working for the Indian IT industry (employed by an IT company in India) ?**
c) Are you male ?*** (this should be easy !)

If your answers to all the questions above are YES, then you already know that you belong to a pool called IIMs. The pool name itself is ironic, considering the fact that the maximum number of applicants to the Indian Institute of Managements are from this pool, and those not able to make it are in turn called IIMs !!

Its not hard to understand why this pool has one of the largest applicants to all MBA schools in India and abroad. Our educational system is designed to reward performance over talent, and scarcity of resources coupled with ever increasing number of people vying to uplift themselves results in mind boggling competition at all levels. The natural progression for anyone considered ‘intelligent’ in school (read – comfortable with numbers and able to top the examination system) is to take up science after standard 10, prepare for the elite engineering colleges, and land up with a job at the end of 16 years. While at school, apart from those lucky few who have already figured out that they are meant for something else, the leaning towards science and then engineering is so deeply seated in parent’s and student’s minds that deviating from it is never an option – nor does our system offer much in terms of scope. Of course, things are changing, and the situation might be slightly better today than it was when I completed my school 10 years ago, but the evidence is still very much against it. Its like a machine churning out pre-fitted products by hundreds and thousands for this stage where we are today, having gone through a similar education, not making it to the few IITs that were in place 10 years ago, having applied and tried our best to bell the CAT, having worked with the Indian IT industry, only to realize that we are no longer alone in this and because of our high volume, we belong to a pool which becomes the most unfavourable part of our application.

There are a LOT of Indians who make it to the top schools abroad. Though I don’t have the statistics, its not wrong to believe that most of them are of Indian origin but with an educational background in a country other than India, or those who have done their under graduation from US or IITs. Considering that Indians constitute the largest pool of applicants to any B school, how many of those who are successful come from the Indian/IT/Male background ?

The key is the same – to differentiate yourself and explain how you would add to the diversity. I think all B schools would definitely want a FEW students from our pool, because its important for the class to understand the behavioural aspects of a profile which is the face of IT outsourcing in the world today. Lets face it, any B School would want the best from any pool – and in the large pool of Indian applicants, if you haven’t gone to IIT or undergraduated from an educational system that they understand, you certainly do not represent the best in the lot. So it comes down to your GMAT score and work experience, and also how well you are able to differentiate and distance yourself from the others in this pool. A B-school would rather go for a diverse work experience than select all Indian students with an IT background.

But as I said, they would still want a FEW Indian IT applicants. The differentiation will lie in our extra curriculars, our interests, the quality & depth of our work experience, & our GMAT scores.

Or you can bet on something else. That everyone else in the pool differentiates themselves by some parameter or the other, so that your profile automatically stands out as unique – as the ‘Indian IT male loser who considers himself too good to continue like this’.

Its a pity that so many of us WANT to pursue an MBA, HAVE the right skills, but there are just not enough takers.

* – If you are an IITian or an NRI -this post is not to offend you since its always a tall order and an accomplishment to make it to any of the Elite B-schools abroad, but you do have a competitive advantage compared to others in the pool.
** – for those Indian applicants working in another industry, take a sigh of relief that you are not working in IT. Trust me, you wouldn’t like to share the space in our pool at this stage.
*** – if you are a female applicant, well, your gender is already a good factor for diversity. See the class profiles for all B Schools, and you’ll not find a single one which doesn’t give a breakup of its students in terms of men and women.

Comments, brickbrats, and some stats are always welcome.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2008 12:32 pm

    Interestingly, on the pagalguy forum there was this question asked to ISB adcom regarding diversity. Here’s the link

  2. July 5, 2008 4:16 am

    When you say that differentiating parameter, what do you mean? I know that IIMs try putting on sometimes absurd spin-offs to thier stories in an effort to stand apart. But deep down being an Indian you and I would know that few would have stellar XCs (apart from quizzing debating and dramatics which almost everyone has somehow done !!), community service/volunteer record, not because they couldnt do it, but because growing up/living in India you would get little chance to do all those. So essentially it boils down to coming up with exotic spins to your tale. The better you do it, the better your chances

    -i am an indian but not an IIM

  3. ahembeea permalink*
    July 5, 2008 7:43 am

    Omg – I couldnā€™t agree more with you on this. The stories might be very similar for most of us, the trick is in how well do we unfold it and how interesting does it sound to the adcoms.No matter what the perceptions are about the IIMs as a group, we know that we are all different in our personalities but bonded together due to similar educational backgrounds and professions. So yes, our similarities might lead us to an MBA for the same reasons, but its our differences which will lead us to various paths post MBA.
    Btw, you have an excellent blog running out there ! Atb !

  4. July 6, 2008 11:32 am

    I agree and partially disagree with omg – i mean we Indians are so pressed to get into a great college for graduation that there is hardly any time left for XCs. And same is true during graduation. So it is always the race against time to prove ourselves – and the way it is perceived in India is by our grades. Somehow we tend to do things that seem great from the others’ lens. Sad but true. However, if someone has got genuine interest in social service, etc., I feel it is not impossible to do this when he/she is working as a professional after the graduation or even during graduation. You will always find time and opportunities if you have the passion. Truly speaking, it is this passion that has to get reflected in the essays – what the adcom looks for! And post MBA of course!

  5. ahembeea permalink*
    July 6, 2008 4:33 pm

    Maverick – due to the competition and perpetual race in India, we first need to set ourselves up comfortably before we can think of anything else. I’m sure most of us are extremely passionate about community service, but passion alone does not translate into action – you should either give it the right conditions to foster, or follow it passionately enough to not worry about the cost at which you are doing so.

  6. July 6, 2008 5:54 pm

    Ahembeea, I agree about the race part – but at the same time, it is not that one does MBA preparations (assuming this is the ‘settling’ part) 24 7 (may be during the app time/exams). So it all boils down to how one would like to spend his free time. If one really wants to be a part of community service, it comes at the cost of some other activity one does during his free time which is nothing. Getting too much involved is an altogether different issue though…

  7. ahembeea permalink*
    July 7, 2008 7:27 am

    Maverick – agree to a certain extent. Though its difficult for me to take out some time for myself as looking after my family itself consumes most of the time. The little time that I get is spent on reading, watching a movie, and applying to MBA programmes ! I think if I was passionate enough, I’d have to cut down on one of the above three. Which one should I cut down on ? šŸ™‚

  8. July 8, 2008 2:15 pm

    I might speak your language once I get married šŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: