I always had the privilege to hear first-hand from MBA aspirants about their application process experience, however little did I know that when my turn would come all those words of wisdom will come in handy at some places while absolutely lacking at many other
. It is not because what was shared with me held no credence, but because I am different and so is everyone else. And this is exactly the agenda – to pick the best cherries from several hopeful – the application process of most sagacious institutions aims to achieve.
Most of the applications I submitted demanded that I provide crisp replies to these key questions – Why MBA? Where do I see myself in 5 or 10 years from now? Why this institute? What value do you bring to the table? Such common questions command common replies from the enormous grey matter available on the internet. And when I skimmed through each one of them, I found several structures and replies which I could have used as is with some manipulation lest a copyright activist or a plagiarism software at the institute catches me red-worded (handed). But, when I was done copying the gold plated answers, I sat back to think if the answers were really a representation of who I really was. The answer was a definite, domineering and disgraceful - “No”
Then began the journey of introspection, which took me a good two months to arrive at one question which is the starting point leading to answers to each question above. That question is – Who am I?
Initially it felt like a Harbhjan Singh’s doosra considering all the questions in the application were already hitting the stumps. However, with Sachin Tendulkar’s thought in mind, I persevered and persisted to answer this one. Master blaster rightly said that when you stay on the pitch and persist, the cricket ball starts appearing to be the size of the football and then it becomes easier to play and hit sixes. Initially, it was tough. Was I a software professional, was I an MBA aspirant, was I a person with abundant experience in Information Technology but lacking Managerial Skills but I was a Project Manager already so why would I need an MBA. The question “Who am I?” haunted me thick and thin for several weeks until one day I was able to summarize my answer in 50 words
Your natural desire would be to know what those 50 words were. Well, you are different, so go figure yourself
. However to help you through, here is what I did. To start with, I got rid of all adjectives – astute, organized, great, fantastic etc. Truth be told, don’t beat your own trumpet. You get the point. Next I scribbled which industry I come from, who am I in the industry, what I do in the industry, what are my expertise areas in terms of domain and technology, what is the latest I have achieved which has made a mark in the industry and if not the industry to the company where I am an employee or was an employee, what contribution I have made to the society or aim to contribute in future and my ultimate goal – entrepreneur, partner, global leader etc. This all helped me put together the 50 words that summarize my greatness and differentiates me from the rest. I call this greatness because there were no adjectives used and being modest is great, isn’t it
These 50 words helped me embark on the journey to understand what an MBA was all about and how will it help me achieve my ultimate goal. It gave me in Business Process Re-engineering terms a new BPR – Business Person Revitalisation the AS-IS and TO-BE person. The question is how. Well, MBA is all about connecting the dots. Although Steve Jobs wasn’t an MBA himself, he did help connect the dots. The first question to ask is what does it take to run a business like a well-oiled, self-gratifying machine, which is in sync with the reality all the time and adapts itself to the changing consumer demand and operating environment. The answer lies in an MBA. It’s no rocket science that business involves a consumer who is on the receiving end of goods and services. Then there is Government who makes the transaction with business heaven or hell. While I am talking Greek here, it is this very Greek that MBA helps you understand – innovation investments, marketing strategies, production decisions, human resource functions, financial analysis and evaluations, economics of the country and the world. You name it and you find it here.
No, I didn’t read books on Marketing, Finance, Strategy, Economics, Human Resources, E-business etc. to find my answers, however it was absolutely important that I had an idea on what these are all about. A quick google on the Wikipedia helped me understand that I barely knew much about these, may be enough to help a fifth grader understand how a business is run
. That’s it bull’s eye. If I am expected to run my employer’s business in immediate future, how would I make or take or influence decisions? What if I get this opportunity today to run a business unit of 500 employees? Well hiring smart people and MBAs is one thing, but evaluating and influencing their decisions is another. Then add to it the complexity of wise headed board members and investors who question each move made by the CEO. After a detailed soul searching and research, my job was done because I knew exactly what an MBA had on offer because I found gaps in my pedigree that required major nurturing.
Once I had the ammunition in place i.e. the 50 words to describe who I was and another 500 for Business Person Revitalization (BPR) from the AS-IS technology savvy engineer TO-BE conditioned business person, answering all the questions were a breeze. Yes, I had to think through the social angle a lot and if you aren’t a contributor to the society just yet. Think hard and fast, act and make a pact to introduce a social angle to your existence because in the times to come with scarcity of resources looming large sustainability will be the key. When one engages society in business activities, it actually positions the firm on the path of repeated resurrection amidst all odds because businesses are supposed to be for the people, of the people and by the people. No, I didn’t learn this before MBA, this is what I can write reams on - The democracy of business – after spending 9 months pursuing MBA. Yay! I feel like a new born
While I learned it the hard way, I want it to be the same for you. So it is best that you give yourself a minimum of three months prior to the application deadline. Think through all time, while watching TV, reading newspapers, having conversations and look out for that - What’s in it for me - moment. Wisdom says – start now. And guess what, it has another benefit. It will help you a lot in fielding questions in the interview process at the institute of your dream and finally when you are ready to make a mark in the industry of your choice. It’s because you will know who you are, what you are up to and why they should hire you. Remember, everyone looks out for a promising face in the crowd, someone different or a differentiator. Are you the one? Go figure.