Improve your MBA profile

D. Murali | Updated on August 31, 2011


If you are working hard to improve your MBA profile for the top B-schools, a sobering truth that Sameer Kamat highlights in Beyond the MBA Hype ( is that there is no ideal MBA applicant. “MBA admissions committees aren't looking for an ‘A' list candidate with Aamir Khan's creativity, Amitabh Bachchan's baritone, Amartya Sen's intellect and Mukesh Ambani's business sense,” he adds.

Yet, the author finds that there are characteristics that most admissions committees would find interesting in Indian candidates, an applicant pool that looks notoriously homogenous. Foremost in his list of pointers is business sense. You do not need to be Ambani, but you do need to have a basic understanding of how businesses function, reminds Kamat.

“If you've had a strong professional background, if you've been better than your peers and if you've shouldered more responsibilities than your job description warranted — then you are doing well.”

Next comes intellect, ‘the raw material brainpower that drives most initiatives in your personal or professional lives,' where the academic grades and your GMAT score play a part. Considering that Indian candidates (typical profile: IT, male, engineer) applying to the top MBA programmes tend to have high GMAT scores, useful caution in the book is that you'd better have a competitive score to begin with.

“A high GMAT score (preferably 700+ or being in the 90 percentile for Indian applicants) in the MBA application can be a crucial link between you and your dream business school.”

Communication skills

Third in the list is ‘communication skills.' While no special voice may be needed when you are making presentations and trying to sell a product or a service or just an idea, what is required is your ability to assimilate all available data, structure your thoughts in your mind before your vocal chords expose your brilliant mind to the eager world waiting out there, instructs Kamat. “For B-school applications, admissions committees will consider your essays and your interviews to judge this.”

Those not clued into the B-school ecosystem may be surprised to learn about ‘essay services.' A good international consultant may charge you upwards of $500 for one essay for one school, and if you require it urgently, then there may be a 20-25 per cent premium added to the regular charges, the author informs. For interviews, the final stage of the application process, there are international coaches who can offer to help you polish your skills, for about $200 an hour.

As for essay topics, Kamat notes that they can range from the mundane (‘Tell me why you want an MBA and why do you want it now in your career?') to the exotic (‘As super-MBA, if you could either press the green button to save the business world from disaster or press the red one to save 100 million poor souls from doom, what would you choose and why?').

Last in the list of characteristics is creativity, the 1 per cent inspiration that you have got to summon up so that it helps you utilise the other three faculties — intellect, communications skills, and business sense — as the author describes. “Aamir Khan might have come up with that bald-attendants-in-every-theatre marketing gimmick for Ghajini that everyone in the media went gaga over. That's the creativity part. For the remaining 99 per cent, it came down to his ability to plan, schedule, communicate and execute the plan.”

Common clichés

In a section on ‘lies, damned lies and statistics in MBA applications,' Kamat frets that though the admissions committee can see through students' attempts to doctor their applications, they continue to figure out creative ways of pitching the same story year after year.

The book's list of ‘common clichés adopted by candidates in their applications' begins with, ‘Issues close to my heart include the environment, children's rights and poverty alleviation' — because the student has discovered that the school wants candidates ‘who are sensitive to social issues,' and a review of ‘alumni and current student profiles on the Web site' shows that most of them do have some non-profit experience.

The stringent application process adopted by the best schools, the author observes, acts as a sieve to filter out the best candidates from across the globe. In his view, many employers place a greater emphasis on this filtering process than the other takeaways from the B-school experience; and that the harder it is to get into a school, the easier it is to land a good job, and vice versa.

A book that can set you on an effective path to sell yourself well.


Published on August 31, 2011

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