by Deepak Punwani, Managing Consultant & Head of Asia Practice for The MBA Exchange. An MBA graduate of INSEAD (France and Singapore), Deepak interviewed applicants and prepared other alumni interviewers on behalf of INSEAD. Over the past decade he has helped numerous applicants gain admission and substantial financial aid from the most competitive MBA programs in the US and Europe. His professional background includes sales management, corporate strategy and brand development in China, India and Singapore for Colgate Palmolive and Goodyear. More recently, he co-founded a renewable energy company operating in India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Earlier, he served as a management consultant for corporations across Asia Pacific and the Middle East and gained entrepreneurial experience in Europe. In addition to his INSEAD MBA degree, he earned a business management degree from the University of Mumbai.
Listing one’s commitments for the new year is a practice that began 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia and remains popular today. People seem to enjoy setting lofty goals intended to make the next 12 months more productive, satisfying and successful. However, despite good intentions, research indicates that less than 10% of those who make new year’s resolutions actually accomplish them. Either their list of pledges is too long, the process is too difficult, or the benefits are unclear.
If you have pledged to apply to business school in 2020, The MBA Exchange can make the application process much easier. Below is a short list of specific, actionable resolutions that can help maximize your chances for success. Based on our experience advising over 5,000 applicants over the past three decades, we encourage you to consider and commit to these steps:
- Tackle the GMAT or GRE beast ASAP.
Taking the standardized test of your choice (either GMAT or GRE) is a strict requirement for admission, so do it as soon as possible. Scores are valid for 5 years and you can cancel any test that falls short of your goal. If engaging a professional tutor or anxiety counsellor could help you, go for it! Achieving a competitive score now will free you to optimize the rest of your MBA candidacy.
- Find out how competitive your MBA candidacy really is.
Some candidates assume their professional, academic and personal profiles are “good enough” to get admitted to a top business school. Other individuals believe that flaws in their background will be impossible to overcome. What if your assumptions and beliefs are wrong? There’s no need to speculate on your admissions competitiveness when it’s so quick, easy and free to get an expert evaluation of your strengths and vulnerabilities.
- Select an admissions consultant through direct dialogue.
The advisor you choose for your MBA application campaign should quickly become a partner, confidante and mentor. You wouldn’t formalize an important, personal relationship based solely on hearsay and anonymous testimonials, would you? So, when vetting a prospective admissions consultant, consider their credentials, ask your toughest questions, share your greatest fears, and state your highest expectations. Then, based on the content and candor of the responses, trust your instincts and make a confident decision for yourself.
- Frame your long- and short-term career goals.
Everyone has a dream about their ideal job in 15-20 years. However, the path to achieving this dream is often unclear. By starting now, you’ll have ample time to research, validate and articulate – or even change – your goals long before schools publish their new MBA applications. If you find this introspective process to be frustrating, having a savvy admissions consultant as a sounding board can prove very helpful.
- Engage directly with the MBA community.
Any MBA applicant can find published data about various programs via the Internet. However, such canned info is not adequate to help you decide where to apply. Furthermore, pulling generic facts from websites does nothing to distinguish you as a serious candidate in the eyes of admissions officers. So, talk to current students, contact alumni, attend information sessions and visit the campus. Form your own opinions about various MBA programs, confirm the fit, and show the adcoms you really know and love their school.
Resolve to take these 5 steps and you’ll be well on your way to earning an MBA education at the school of your dreams!