Top-20 MBA admit through School’s Assessment/ Exam: Siddhant’s Success Journey

By Arvind Kumar

What would you do if you have a good profile (work experience), don’t have a GMAT/ GRE score, and are eyeing a Top-20 MBA program? 

In this article, we explore why Siddhanth wanted to pursue an MBA, and uncover the details of his IE MBA application process. Siddhanth shares valuable insights into the process of applying to one of the world’s leading business schools and how partnering with Arvind Kumar (admitStreet) helped him in the journey. 

We hope this breaks several myths about the MBA application process and inspires more to pursue their path.

Background & Why MBA

I come from a commerce background having completed my Bcom & Mcom from RA Podar College in Mumbai. Professionally I have an experience of 6.5 years across 2 industries (FMCG & Edtech) and 3 different functions Sales, Marketing and Category Management ( P&L handling). 

I began my professional journey at an early age of 19 with an internship at Mondelez India. After that, I became a founding-team member of an FMCG Start-up and led the Sales and Distribution for Mumbai-western region. In my current role at upGrad International as an Program Manager, I lead a team, managing program operations and new program launches. 

MBA has always been my goal from an academic standpoint. Speaking with my peers and seniors, I understood that doing an MBA after gaining substantial work experience makes more sense than pursuing it right after college.

After gaining substantial international experience and into my domains, a global MBA was a no-brainer and I chose IE Business School because of their rankings and the program’s alignment with my post-MBA goals.

GMAT/ GRE  journey

I was stuck between giving the GMAT Focus Edition or the Classical Edition as the dynamics around the GMAT were changing rapidly (in 2023). IEGAT was something which was on the back of my mind. Thanks to Arvind: never throughout the process did he make me feel like it was a gamble to apply without a GMAT score. 

Application Process

I met with the Adcoms twice in Mumbai (at Education fairs) before I applied for the program. They gave me a holistic view of my profile and highlighted the parts which fit well with IE. 

I came to Arvind with a plan and we stuck to it. In fact, he never made me feel like my application lacked anything, and his feedback was constructive and critical. We always focussed on the controllables and did not bother about the non-controllables.

IE is big on entrepreneurship and experience around the same. Being the founding member of a start-up worked in my favor as we decided to present my entrepreneurial journey, right from the setbacks to the comebacks. Even during my interview, I spoke a lot about what my entrepreneurial stints taught me and why I would definitely do it again. Additionally, my International work experience helped strengthen my case.

I would like to credit Arvind, because we had the subject matter but the way he drafted a narrative around it highlighting my strengths and some weaknesses mentioning how we were looking to tackle them and how the MBA would be useful in such a scenario. In the end, I would say whenever I read my essays now it helps me reflect on the last one decade and everything that went down there, none of it was something I felt surprised about.

Interview Experience

To take a step back and reflect on my preparation for the interview, I was quite nervous after having received the interview invite as all of it happened very quickly. Arvind stepped in right there and helped me calm my nerves down and laid a proper plan of action. From the application submission till the interview day we had a time of 2 weeks to prepare and being new to this, I did not know where to start preparation from. 

Arvind ensured we had all bases covered, all possible scenarios noted down, potential questions and answers were shared with me and that became my Bible for the next 2 weeks. We had one brainstorming phone call to set the context and discuss the agenda for the mock interview and post that we had the mock interview 4 days prior to the actual interview. It helped me ease my nerves to a large extent and the feedback given was pretty much spot on as I could see my actual interview was 80% on the lines of my mock interview so I felt confident throughout.

During my IE interview, I was asked about myself, professional experience, Why an International MBA, Why from IE Business School, What makes you the right fit for IE and Post MBA goals.

The interview overall was short and crisp, the interviewer made me feel at ease and overall it was a conversation I would say about my journey and learnings, and what takeaways I have had and how they would shape the next one year of mine at IE. At no point of time did the interviewer try to put me in a spot, also, a special mention for this goes to Arvind since he made sure I had practiced all possible scenarios during our mock interview call.

Working with Arvind (admitStreet)

It was super smooth. I met Arvind at an MBA admissions event last March and right from my interaction with him which was a free profile evaluation till the time I received an admit, nothing changed. He keeps things pretty simple and there’s no fuss, he understands the fact that no profile is a perfect profile. 

I had interacted with a couple of consultants before who before understanding everything wanted to jump right into something that I was skeptical about. But with Arvind, I had proper breathing space and the manner in which he set up the entire process keeping in mind the timelines and then following a backward planning approach worked quite well for me. He never made me feel like I am lagging behind or we are missing out on something and that’s the thing that made me feel secure around him.

Understanding my perspective and respecting the same throughout. Not imposing point of views but rather brainstorming and collaborating to bring out the best version. Also, having worked with students and himself being an HEC alumni feel Arvind understands the pulse of the Adcoms quite well and being an applicant during his early days also helps him understand the psyche of the applicant. This was something rare.

He always had the next steps planned incase we faced a hurdle as if he could foresee it and planned for it. Throughout the process I felt I was in safe hands and working with the best in the business.

Advice for Prospective Students

  • Meet the Adcoms if possible during the MBA Fairs, understand from them what they are looking for in a candidate and where do you fit amidst that.
  • Leadership & Entrepreneurship are two things that IE is big on so if you have any of these go big on them.
  • Be quite vocal and do not shy away from putting your point forward as they value that a lot. Do ensure whatever you are is rightly reflected throughout your application.

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