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Joined: Sep 21, 2013
I still keep pinching myself, y'know. To ensure I am not stuck in an 'inception-esque' trance.
But I know it's real. My destiny was sealed the day the admission letter read 'Congratulations' with a celebratory confetti background wallpaper.
Mins later, I sent an email to Susan telling her that we had done it. We had converted our first US business school. The journey hadn't been easy, especially for an ORM (over-represented minority). So, let's dive right in.
In September 2021, I decided to finally shake off the dust of procrastination regarding my MBA plans. But, still reeling under the 'let-me down' eyes of self-doubt, I knew I needed guidance on the admissions process. After some secondary research online, I came across the website of Stratus Consulting and its senior director - Susan Cera.
Susan and I spoke for the first time end of September. It was a 30 mins consultation call wherein we discussed my profile. The discussion was highly directive. It was humbling to hear about my strengths and my blind spots. Susan did not mince her words, which helped me steer clear of any delusions I was carrying.
We decided to work together for the next 1-2 months, building my personalized MBA blueprint. This had three critical parts, each feeding into the other:-
a) Part 1: Gather data points by reflecting on past experiences across professional and personal settings
b) Part 2: Identify Attributes by leveraging the data points gathered
c) Part 3: Build Story by identifying stories that allude to those specific attributes
Post this exercise. We built out the second part of the strategy:-
a) Why MBA? And Why Now?
b) Post MBA goals? Short-term and Long-term
Further to this exercise, we refined my resume, driving specificity through the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) framework.
Finally, we bucketed my target schools across three areas, i.e., Likely/Reach/Stretch. At this point, it is essential to mention that given my debilitating test anxiety, we decided to only look at schools with a GMAT waiver.
As part of the following steps, we worked selectively on a few essays, wherein Susan reviewed my story, constantly pushing me to direct my thoughts using the STAR format. Her #1 guidance to me was that 'specificity drives credibility,' and those golden words have been etched into my brain since then.
Our journey led us to convert to a top 20 B-School and get waitlisted at a top 15. I honestly did not expect to cut, but Susan – as my guardian angel – was there to reassure me in every way. She was more than a consultant, a sounding board that allowed me to vent my frustrations and insecurities without turning a page of judgment. I am forever indebted to her contribution, allowing this ORM a fighting chance at the top 20 MBA programs in the US.