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Karthic Ramesh – Average score of 680 bags ISB admit

Posted on June 02, 2017
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In conversation with Karthic Ramesh who scored a 680 on the GMAT and bagged an MBA Admit to ISB…

 
 

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

 
I did my Mechanical Engineering from Bangalore Institute of Technology and graduated in 2008. Post that, I started working for Kennametal which is basically a metal cutting firm. This company is into creating metal cutting products for general engineering and automotive companies.
 
I started off as a Product Development Engineer, grew up the ladder, became a Project Leader and then Assistant Manager. In this role, I developed a lot of ideas, led projects for new products, managed a team and interacted with a lot of cross-functional and multinational teams.
 
 

I started off as a Product Development Engineer, grew up the ladder, became a Project Leader and then Assistant Manager.

 
 

What was your motivation behind an MBA?

 

Being in product development, I used to interact with a lot of functions. When I was interacting with product management and product marketing, I developed an interest in that function. The R&D process or product launch process in my company was a five-stage process. Stages 1 and 2 are driven by product management & marketing. Then the stages in the middle are driven by R&D and the internal functions of the company.
 
 

Since I just had core technical skills, I wanted to complement it with management skills. That was my main motivation behind wanting an MBA.

 
 
Once we develop the product, we hand it over to product management and they go out there and launch it. I felt that the product management role was much more challenging. Not that my current role wasn’t challenging, but my inclinations gradually evolved towards the customer-facing side and strategy formulation. Since I just had core technical skills, I wanted to complement it with management skills. That was my main motivation behind wanting an MBA.
 
 

How did you prepare for the GMAT?

 
I took the GMAT thrice. The first attempt was based purely on my own preparation. The second time I actually started looking at GMAT material, but my performance was still quite bad. That’s when I started looking at classroom coaching as an option, and with my third attempt, after attending CrackVerbal’s Verbal classes, my score was 680. I thought that with a work experience of 6 years, I could apply to B-schools with this score. I decided to stick to 680 as my final score and I did not attempt the GMAT again.
 
 

I took the GMAT thrice. The first attempt was based purely on my own preparation. The second time I actually started looking at GMAT material, but my performance was still quite bad. That’s when I started looking at classroom coaching as an option.

 
 

How did you go about with your application process?

 
The first and most important thing was to look at myself – my traits and my achievements, and decide how I could really portray them in an attractive light.
 
Secondly, I looked for a fit with the B-school. I explored the centers of excellence, the kind of faculty, the student profile and other such factors at the schools I was considering. And of course, there were other factors like financial constraints, regional constraints etc.
 
I realized that it was important to figure out what the essays were actually asking and what was the motive behind a particular question. For example, a question could actually be evaluating your leadership skills but it would eventually ask you to describe a situation and how you handled the situation.
 
 

I realized that it was important to figure out what the essays were actually asking and what was the motive behind a particular question.

 
 
The essay questions may seem simple, but when you get down to them and actually read between the lines, that’s when it gets difficult to formulate your response.
 
So I looked at the essays and then I looked at my skills – what I had done in my professional life and in academics. I drafted multiple essays for the same question. Then I started picking out what comes off as more distinctive or more impactful. I took help from a couple of friends who had already been to IIM. After that, I approached CrackVerbal for a different perspective on my applications and subsequently zeroed in on the final version of my essays.
 
I should mention that I had applied to ISB earlier too. I applied once in 2013 and once again in 2014.
 
 

I had applied to ISB earlier too, once in 2013 and once again in 2014.

 
 

What was the difference between both the times you applied?

 
Quite frankly, when it came to the essays, there wasn’t much of a difference, but the second time I applied, I gave more importance to even the little things I did at work – because you always have the traditional reapplicant essay where you really need to show why the school should consider you again. I had the same GMAT score.
 
So I actually focused on the small things. For example, when it came to team management, I started conducting weekly reviews and weekly knowledge sharing sessions for the team which helped build overall expertise in that field – and I showcased these things in my essays. I must say that sometimes there is a factor of luck in it too.
 
 

So I actually focused on the small things. For example, when it came to team management, I started conducting weekly reviews and weekly knowledge sharing sessions for the team which helped build overall expertise in that field – and I showcased these things in my essays.

 
 

What were the schools you applied to?

 
In 2013, I had applied to Cornell, Oxford, NUS, ISB, Cambridge and IIM-B. I was mainly looking for a one-year program because, after 5 years of experience at that point, I really didn’t want to invest 2 years in an MBA.
 
My research on these schools was quite poor the first time. I had got an admit from CEIBS, but didn’t take it up because of financial constraints.
 
Of course, we learn from our mistakes. So the next year I applied only to schools in India- IIM B, IIM- C and ISB. I got admits from both IIM-C and ISB. I figured that the flagship program at ISB was much better.
 
 

How was your interview experience?

 
In my first interview for ISB, I was a bit unlucky because I had 2 people who were interviewing me. The interview turned out to be more of a consulting sort, where I was caught off-guard with unexpected questions. My response to the first question was not that great and so all the subsequent questions were affected. One of the interviewers actually left the room in between because I was the last person to be interviewed that day. So in some cases, there is a factor of luck which also plays a great role.
 
The second time, the interview went really well because the questions were very specific and I was prepared for most of them. The questions were – Tell us about yourself, why MBA, why ISB, tell us about this particular achievement, etc. So the second time, it was much more easy for me because it focused on the application component and wherever they needed more information, I could answer based on my profile.
 
 

My response to the first question was not that great and so all the subsequent questions were affected.

 
 

How’s life at ISB so far?

 
Well, you’ve got to be prepared to completely lose yourself. If you thought that getting into a B-school is difficult, then I must tell you, that getting through a B-school is even more difficult. I would rate the difficulty level of getting into a B-school as 3/10 and getting through a B-school as 8/10.
 
The main thing is that there are so many things happening around you. We come to B-schools thinking that it is all about gaining knowledge, but that’s just not so. You have extra-curricular activities, assignments, group discussions, sports activities, events, companies visiting for presentations, industry projects, projects for NGOs, social activities etc.
 
 

I would rate the difficulty level of getting into a B-school as 3/10 and getting through a B-school as 8/10.

 
 
Ultimately, you have much more on your plate than you can fight. You have to decide and prioritize what you want at the end of the day. Quite frankly, I would tell you that if you get 4-5 hours to sleep every day, you’re lucky. On top of that, you also have peer pressure which gets to you.
 
It’s been a roller coaster ride. It completely pulls you out of your comfort zone. But it’s been fun. This is how transformation happens. You realize your potential only when you go through such an experience. I discovered a lot of skills I didn’t know I had within me. This learning experience has been transformational!
 
 

You realize your potential only when you go through such an experience. I discovered a lot of skills I didn’t know I had within me.

 
 

How did CrackVerbal help you in your MBA journey?

 
I’ve taken help for the GMAT from multiple resources like Jamboree, Kaplan etc., but each of them had different approaches and I always wondered which approach would work best. Only when I came to CrackVerbal did I realize that their approach towards the GMAT is pretty unique. It helped me crack GMAT Verbal which I couldn’t do when I was learning from other resources. CrackVerbal helped me boost my score by more than 50 points!
 
For the applications, of course, you have to draft your own essays because no one knows your capabilities and objectives as much as you do. But there is a way in which B-schools look at it. You need to polish it and get it across in the right tone and in the clearest way. That’s where CrackVerbal is an expert!
 
CrackVerbal helped me with all my essays and when I look at my essays- what it was before and what it was after the reviews, I can clearly see the difference.
 
 

You have to draft your own essays because no one knows your capabilities and objectives as much as you do.But you need to polish it and get it across in the right tone and in the clearest way. That’s where CrackVerbal is an expert!

 
 
One thing I really liked about the CrackVerbal experience was the connect that was maintained. It is not that they were in touch with me only during GMAT preparation or during the essay reviews – they kept the connective alive throughout my application journey. They guided me all along and that really boosted my confidence.
 
 

Do you have any advice for other MBA aspirants?

 
You need to be very clear on why you need to do an MBA. I realized this all the more after I entered B-school. Once you know how the MBA is going to act as a bridge between where you are and where you want to go, you are good to go!
 
 

Once you know how the MBA is going to act as a bridge between where you are and where you want to go, you are good to go!

 
 
Once you’re in B-school, you have so many things thrown at you and sometimes, your career goal or your motivations behind an MBA change direction. You discover plenty of opportunities that you could actually have a shot at – that’s what an MBA does to you. I came to ISB with an intention to pursue product management, but now I feel that strategy and general management are more interesting to me. The MBA experience significantly enhances your confidence and your risk- taking abilities.
 
 

Are you inspired by Karthic’s story? Leave your comments below!
 
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