From Biomedical Research to Kellogg MBA: A Non-Traditional Business School Journey

By - Nov 3, 06:00 AM Comments [0]

Learn how real students and recent grads have navigated their way through the business school admissions process and b-school itself with our What is Business School Really Like? series.

Meet Mandar, a Kellogg grad and former biomedical researcher.

Mandar, thank you for sharing your story with us!

We’d like to get to know you better! Can you please share 3 unusual or surprising things about yourself?


  • The first time I played baseball, my cricket instincts kicked in and I ran straight towards the pitcher with the bat in hand. I have never seen a pitcher so afraid.
  • I was part of a drag racing team in Mumbai and dream of driving “Tokyo Drift” style in Japan one day. My wife does not approve.
  • I wore hazmat suits for extended periods of time and have worked with lethal infectious agents.

Congratulations on your recent graduation from Kellogg’s Evening and Weekend Program! Can you share a bit about the structure of the program and its unique features? Is it an MBA or an EMBA program?

Mandar: Thank you! I graduated from Kellogg School of Management in the Evening and Weekend Program. It is just like a full-time MBA except you can finish the program at your own pace while working full-time. The program offers a traditional and accelerated route where a few courses can be waived based on the student’s experience.

I was enrolled in the traditional program which offers classes on evenings or weekends. I took the majority of my classes in the evenings. Kellogg provides brain food and coffee at the Kellogg Table before class starts at 6pm! The Table is popular for networking and catching up with classmates, friends, and all the community members.

What attracted you to this program in particular?

Mandar: This program was particularly attractive for me as it allows the flexibility to complete the course at my own pace. I also enjoyed the ability to take key learnings from class and apply them to my workplace in real time.

I understand you have an MA in biology, and substantial professional experience in drug and vaccine research. Can you share a bit more about your professional background? How was an MBA the next step for you?

Mandar: I graduated with an MS in Biology back in 2010 and started working for IITRI- a nonprofit organization that supports the biopharmaceutical industry to develop new medicines and drugs. At IITRI, I led a team of 12 direct reports responsible for 6 laboratories in the microbiology and molecular biology division.

However, a few years into lab work at a nonprofit, I felt my naïve optimism being tested. I learned that despite the potentially powerful and global benefits of drug research, it will always rely on obtaining grants, publishing research papers, and fighting for a steadily declining supply of government research dollars.

When I began lab work, I had been so excited by the scientific aspects of our work that I failed to consider its economic or logistical viability. Hence, to become an effective leader in my industry, I realized an MBA was the right next step for me.

You are a graduate of the HBX CORe program (Harvard Business School). Why did you choose to participate in this program, and what was your experience there?

Mandar: HBX CORe program from Harvard Business School is a certificate program on the fundamentals of business comprised of three courses – Business Analytics, Economics of Managers, and Financial Accounting. Coming from a non-traditional background, HBX CORe helped me to get a headstart on the business side of things. The program allowed me to understand the power of case studies and helped me connect the dots between my education and the world of business.

Since it had been many years since you were in school (excluding your time at HBX CORe), was it difficult adjusting back to school life?

Mandar: I was a little nervous starting school again, especially with full-time work. However, a lot of students at Kellogg come from diverse backgrounds and we all helped each other acclimate to the new school life.

What was it like balancing intense work and school responsibilities?

Mandar: It was a hard reality to say goodbye to social life. Just kidding, I would say it took a quarter or two to balance the work-life-school balance but I achieved it by being transparent on my time to all the stakeholders in the community.

As a student, where was your favorite place on campus or nearby to study?

Mandar: Wieboldt Hall in downtown Chicago! Occasionally we would go to Stan’s Donuts or Timmy’s (Timothy O’Toole’s).

What about extracurriculars? What activities did you participate in before and during business school?

Mandar: I love to hike and climb mountains. Before school, my wife and I summited Mount Agung in Bali, Indonesia. During school, I visited a few countries (Japan, Chile, Kenya, and others) to learn about the local culture and hike! In Kenya during business school, my classmates and I helped a nonprofit organization whose objective is to halve neonatal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa in 4 years, through launching and sustaining usage of a comprehensive bundle of 17 medical technologies.

What have you been up to since graduation?

Mandar: I took a nice 2-month vacation in French Polynesia and New Zealand after graduation! Since then, I have started working for Accenture as a Senior Strategy Consultant helping clients solve their toughest problems across all industries.

On a practical level, how did you make your career switch happen? What recruitment opportunities did your program provide?

Mandar: Kellogg facilitates on-campus recruiting where many companies across industries come to campus. I received my offer from Accenture through on-campus recruiting.

The other avenue is off-campus recruiting which is student-led, leveraging the vast Kellogg alumni network.

Do you plan to utilize your bio-research background in your post-MBA career?

Mandar: I ask that question to myself every day. I plan on staying in the complex healthcare industry, but I am open to other functions within the industry.

Do you have any advice for MBA applicants interested in making a career change?

Mandar: It is never too late to change your career! Most of us have a preconceived notion of MBA programs selecting candidates only with traditional backgrounds. It is simply not true. I would advise MBA applicants to follow their passion and start networking with people who have managed to change careers successfully.

Do you have questions for Mandar? Questions for us? Do you want to be featured in our next What is Business School Really Like? post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!

You can learn more about Mandar by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

Are you setting out on your own b-school journey? We can help you reach the finish line! Check out our MBA Admissions Consulting Services to team up with an admissions expert who will help you join the ranks of thousands of Accepted clients who get accepted to their dream schools.


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Related Resources:

• Why MBA? a free guide to writing about your MBA goals
• Get a Kellogg MBA: An Interview with Dean of Admissions Kate Smith, a podcast episode
• MBA Admissions Advice for Career Changers

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