Guest Posts, MBA Programs

The Experiences of an International MBA Student

October 6 2010 By The MBA Exchange
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———”Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts. We are about to begin our descent…”

It seems like it was just yesterday… but a little over five months ago, the sweet voice of the air-hostess ont he Air Indigo flight from Bangalore to Ahmedabad broke my in-flight reverie when she announced our imminent arrival at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel International airport. It is hard to explain my excitement atthe time. My heartbeat quickened when I felt the familiar thud of wheels hitting the tarmac. It was finally happening. My MBA dream was finally going to come true, after all those years of struggle and repeated rejections by US and Indian B-schools… and periods of depression. As the plane touched down, my spirits soared. I had a feeling that this was going to be the best year of my life… yet!

Pursuing an MBA at IIM, Ahmedabad is considered an awesome achievement for Indian MBA-hopefuls across the globe. The Post Graduate Program in management for eXecutives (PGPX) is a one-year MBA program, designed by the dear folks at IIMA “to develop bright, enthusiastic and aspirational executives into management leaders and change agents in the global arena.” Bakul Dholakia, one of the former directors of IIMA summarizes the program well when he said, “PGPX is positioned in the same league as the top ranking global one year MBA programmes offered by leading B-schools. The class of PGPX has a fairly large proportion of overseas students and usually more than 90% of the students have significant international exposure. Given their [students’] average age of over 32 years and average experience of over 10 years, their commitment and motivation levels are very high, which contributes to a rich classroom experience.” Competing with thousands of applicants vying for one of 80+ limited seats in each batch, being selected is a privilege none of us takes lightly and we proudly wear our pride on our sleeves.

I used to consciously avoid roller coaster rides when I visited theme/amusement parks in the US or India, but now I often end up feeling like I’m on the mother of all rides – an MBA program at IIMA. Oh, the irony of it all! A few months into the PGPX program, I can’t help get the feeling that I’m on a thrill-ride, with little control over my movement, being thrown violently from side to side, back and forth, with sudden gravity-defying twists and turns, climbing up steep inclines only to encounter the inevitable free-falls . It sometimes takes all my strength to hold on for dear life, clutching imaginary holding bars for safety… or in this case, my sanity!

Now when I recall the air-hostess’ words, I realize how ominous they were. She’d asked me to fasten my seat belts to prepare for the descent…. Indeed, I sigh as I continue my descent… into madness and chaos – with insane workloads, unrelenting study schedules, group-study, assignments, case-preparation, piles of reading material, surprise quizzes – all to be managed (read juggled) with a minor-constraint – each day has only 24 hours. No big deal – we don’t HAVE to sleep! Students are still trying to fathom the rationale for the intense rigour of the PGPX course, but you couldn’t blame them for presenting theories such as this: “The creative designing of the PGPX course ensures that students learn how to handle stress by putting them directly into the frying pan, expecting each fried item to rise to the surface, crisp and ready for consumption (by the big, bad corporate world.. with gusto…in a year’s time)“ OR “The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire.”

Of course, there’s a lot more that happens in and around the campus that keeps the spirits high on campus – sports tournaments, cultural events, factory visits, to name a few. Students also have the opportunity to interact directly with top government/ business leaders and celebrities who visit our campus as part of various initiatives like the ‘CEO on campus’ and ‘Speaker series’. In fact, in the coming weeks, the campus will be abuzz with excitement ahead of an important annual event called Connexion which “is a platform to bring together imminent personalities, thought leaders and policy makers to debate the contemporary issues facing corporate leaders and public policy makers.

Before I sign off on this blog post, I leave all you MBA students and wannabes with excerpts from an old poem of mine… I hope you are able to relate to it… and realize your dreams soon!

It’s been a long and arduous search for me,

for the road to glory and fame,

trying to get where I want to be,

and make for myself a name!

There are many paths ahead of me;

I wonder which one to take!

One of these must surely be

leading me to the treasure at stake!

I have the goal now in my sights

and I’m raring to go!

The desire to reach greater heights,

will, for certain, grow!


As I step onto the chosen track,

I turn to the skies and pray,

for the strength to go on and not turn back,

till my goal is reached… someday!