Rahul Srivastava – a techie who got into ISB!
In Conversation with Rahul Srivastava – a hardcore techie turned manager, who is at ISB, the Indian school of Business, Class of 2013!
Hi Rahul! Congrats for getting into ISB!
To begin with, please share your undergraduate degree and your profile with us.
I am a computer science graduate from IIT-Kanpur. I joined a start-up called ‘VizExperts’, commenced by another IITian. I was more or less the initial employee of VizExperts and eventually I became a partner in that company.
How many years of experience do you have?
I have almost 5.5 years of experience for now.
Awesome! Could you share with us your GMAT score?
My GMAT score was 740.
That’s thrilling! Could your date back to your GMAT experiences and give me some background when did you start with your GMAT preparation?
I gave my GMAT on July 22. I started my preparation one month back seriously, from June 15th. The study material I used basically included the Official GMAT guide, the Manhattan Sentence Correction book and the Kaplan GMAT 800 book.
Rahul, were you pretty consistent in your preparation?
Well, not really! For two or three weeks, it was an ‘on and off’ preparation. I actually studied rigorously in the last 10 days; I didn’t even attend my office. I completed the study material during those 10 days and I consistently attempted a test everyday from Manhattan or Kaplan GMAT. In total, I attempted 10 mock tests before heading towards the real GMAT test.
Did you attempt the full-length test every day, including AWA Section, Quant and Verbal?
Every day, after finishing with my studies, I took a mock test. Yes, I took a full-length test including Quant and Verbal. As far as AWA section is concerned, there is a certain pattern to it. I got that pattern around 10 days before the real GMAT test and I practiced the pattern every day.
Great! Is there any tip you would like to give to someone who is going to take the GMAT?
I feel that the GMAT has a different pattern compared to most of the other competitive exams, be it CAT or MAT. For the aspiring GMAT test takers, my advice would be to attempt a lot of mock tests to get familiar with the GMAT pattern and make sure that these tests are taken under timed conditions. This is because when you take mock tests under examination constraints, you will get a real picture of where you actually stand in each of these sections.
We are curious to know as you are a total techie, how did the MBA come about? Whether management aspects started interesting you or whether it was getting into a business start-up?
Being one of the initial employees of the company, I got into management quite early. As the situation demanded, I left my tech role almost three years ago and completely started managing projects and the team. This was within 2-2.5 years of joining the company. So, I have been in management for almost 3 years now. You will be taken aback; I have also done recruiting and other aspects of human resource, administrative duties, sales and marketing. I would say almost every aspect of managing a business.
You have probably explored all these areas; you still believe that an MBA will give you some extra value addition?
My chief goal to join an MBA program is to get a holistic view of how a company runs, especially a big company. As there are so many different spectrums in the business world, I am keen to learn the nuances of the entire structure of a company. For instance, how we should handle finances, team members, customers, and so on.
I want to address these effectively by joining a good B-school which can teach me how to manage a company in general. As I already wanted to do an MBA sometime in future, I thought this is the best time to plunge into the vast ocean of learning and adopt some new intriguing techniques, especially from my peers.
So, you are looking for the value addition the other students are going to bring to the table?
See, theoretical knowledge that is taught in B-Schools and Colleges, more or less becomes redundant. I am definitely not going for the theoretical knowledge alone; I am just joining an MBA program to upgrade myself by associating with my peers.
Why did you narrow down to ISB, the Indian School of Business?
To your surprise, actually I narrowed down only on ISB and not any other B-School. When I gave my GMAT, my aim was to get into ISB only.
Is there any specific reason for this?
You did not look into any other schools apart from ISB. Apart from financial point of view was there any other consideration?
I analyzed the ranking of all the B-Schools and also the faculties available there. I also looked into the specific strengths of each school. My distilled information reflected that ISB was more or less at par with the Best Universities. So, given the MBA goals I had, it became very logical for me to apply to ISB.
If I had not got into ISB, I would have applied to schools such as Stanford Business School, Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School, Kellogg School of Management or the London Business School.
An ISB aspirant would like to know from you, how did you went about your application process?
It was a last minute action I took. I applied on the last day – Round 2 Application in ISB. Actually I was also getting engaged during that time. As far as the application process is concerned, I would strongly suggest that in order to earn pointers, recommendations play a very important role. My first recommendation was from my CEO and the second one from one of our clients – a very highly placed government official! As a client, his recommendation added a lot of weightage to my application. There aren’t many people who usually get such kind of recommendations.
That’s true! So, how did the interview process go?
It was pretty good! It wasn’t like a formal gloomy interview. It was more like a discussion. I would definitely say that my engineering background helped me a lot during my interview process. Actually there were two ISB alumni who were on my interview panel. So, based on my diverse background in engineering and management, they asked me questions which were very relevant.
For instance, they asked me…since I was in human resource also, what best have I accomplished during the hiring process? Since I am an engineering manager, which is the best project I have dealt with? What are my strengths and weaknesses in managing team and projects? Apart from these, there were also general discussions about what client interactions I have done, what I am expecting from ISB, etc. My interview went on for 40-45 minutes and these were the questions that were generally asked.
How did CrackVerbal help you in this journey Rahul?
Truly speaking, CrackVerbal was immensely helpful. The consultant who actually helped me write my essays was very confident that I had a very bright chance of getting into ISB. He infused the same confidence in me. As I had an engineering background along with managerial experience, it would have been very easy for him to write essays by himself.
But instead of applying this short-cut, we had very engaging and fruitful discussions. Most of the times, we did not talk about the essays, instead we discussed about the reasons to get into ISB and about its culture before getting into the actual task of writing essays. Once I jotted down my essays, he helped me improve upon them, making them more relevant and informative by adding some crucial information or deleting something that was of less significance.
Thus, CrackVerbal guided me with my essays in a very systematic manner in line with what are the things that the ISB application Committee is looking for in an applicant. Usually it is known that the final draft of essays take about 3-4 sittings. But I got it in two sittings itself, and within one week I was done with the final draft of the essays. This wouldn’t have been possible if I would have done it alone.
CrackVerbal also offered a mock interview to me, but at that time I wasn’t in Delhi or Bangalore, so it wasn’t possible for me to attend the mock interview. If I would have attended it, I am sure I would have done even better in my interview.
It was great talking to you Rahul. Thank you so much for your time and all the very best for your MBA journey. Good luck!
All right! Thank you!