Kick Start your MBA preparation with 'Why MBA'
Every year, many inspired individuals across the globe set their sail towards that coveted management seat they dreamt of. After a demanding and rough journey through tricky questions and sticky threads, some succeed some compromise and others set their sail again. People who are successful in paving their way to prestigious management programs and more importantly happy about their decision to take away two years for MBA have one thing in common. They all knew WHY they wanted an MBA. They set their compass in the right direction before starting the sail.
We look for three things - intellectual curiosity, demonstrated achievement, and passion. We really look across the whole spectrum of a candidate's life and the impact he/she has had on the world around. Academic success and leadership potential, of course, are important as well. All in all, there isn't a specific profile we go for, but one question to ask yourself is not "what?" but "why?"
– Thomas Caleel (Wharton)
End of the day, an MBA program is trying to produce managers who can add value to business. Business is a way of life and handling business roles demand a lot of discipline, talent and common sense. Creating this way of life is not something which is being offered through a management program. But if you are consistently showcasing these qualities in life through sensible decisions, managing time, leveraging talent and adding value to your roles, a gold mine is waiting for you in a good B School. Loads of learning happens in those lecture halls and dorm rooms which will fine tune your perspective about being a productive individual. The gyan that get built around campus is so amazing that few years after college it won’t be the paycheck you will be thanking for.
Ambitions are not carved in stones. We meet new people; we learn and unlearn; our perspectives get better clarity; we reprioritize and may set our goal towards new horizons. There is no good reason in spending time and money on MBA if you want to continue what you are already doing in life! Most of the good management program asks the candidate to share SOP (Statement of Purpose) before they appear for personal interviews. The confidence and determination which you portray through your statement of purpose is so very important and your interview panel would keenly refer to your SOP to reach their decision. SOP includes point blank questions like why MBA, why here, why now etc… and also detailed ones like biographical sketches and reference letters. These statements will be the yard stick for rating your compatibility with the program’s expectations. Within B-school spectrum you will find colleges built on various cultures extending from those looking for next business think tanks to those hunting for students who can pay! Importance of your cultural fit with that of the institute cannot be stressed enough. Get your SOP done before they ask. Analyze the pros and cons in various management programs and set your focus towards the right programs that caters your needs.
An acid test to check the strength of your reasons is to challenge yourself!
Reason: I have a great idea and want to start a business based on it.
Challenge: Why MBA? Many business leaders who built and lead top notch organizations don’t have an MBA. Why can’t you start now and learn on the way than spending 2 years and money on MBA?
Reason: I want to build my fundamentals in business and management.
Challenge: Why MBA? All books that are read in B School are available outside
Reason: I want to learn from industry leaders and bright minds of the country.
Challenge: Why MBA? Lot of active management forums are available where you can network with experts in your field of interest.
Reason: I am an engineer aspiring for a career in finance.
Challenge: Why MBA? Why not CFA and keep your paycheck.
Reason: I like people.
Challenge: So what!!!
There is no right or wrong reasons. Find out your true calling… see how it connects to an MBA… Challenge your reasons, watch where it breaks. Support your reason with facts and figures. Discuss and debate with your well wishers. Seek guidance from experts. Negotiate and bargain with yourself. Once you build complete confidence in your reasons, MBA won’t look like a make or break factor for achieving your dreams. Once you establish solid goals and if your goals can use the exposure and gyan offered by an MBA program, then the degree would act as a perfect booster for you. Taking MBA in this perspective will help to focus on our aspirations rather than the overall hype around the course. If MBA, good. If we couldn’t make it, still good, as we have our own REASONS to look forward to.
One aspect that holds true for any management program is that they cannot magically transform anyone to a bright manager. What a good MBA program does is to bring diverse talents together and facilitate an eco-system for collaborative learning. It is this conducive environment that shapes the future managers.
Adam Smith's Supply-Demand model is applicable in MBA admissions too. Our MBA entrance exams are consistently ranked among the toughest in the planet because of this demand-supply issue of umpteen aspirants competing for very limited seats. So if we need to make it to that coveted MBA program we dreamt of, then we should be ready in every aspect. A journey of thousand miles begins with one step and that one step for an MBA aspirant should be to ponder on below questions and convince oneself before they try to persuade the panel.
How well you can EARN, LEARN & CONTRIBUTE in a managerial role?
What is the SIGNIFICANCE of MBA in your ambitions?
What value you can GIVE TO & TAKE FROM the applied program?
Most of us juggle MBA preparation with job pressure or academic rigor which makes available preparation time precious. If you sincerely aspire, being an MBA and do not enjoy preparing for it, chances are high that you are putting efforts in the wrong baskets or in most cases, in the right baskets but in wrong dosage.
There is an interesting statistical tool which is called Pareto analysis, also called 80/20 rule. It states 20% of causes determine 80% of problems. In our world of MBAtious people this rule can be interpreted as: we end up spending 80% of our time for preparing stuff than constitutes 20% of selection criteria for an MBA. Seems a bit absurd right!
Let’s dig little deep to this statement. Considering a yearlong preparation period, we spend around nine months building muscles in aptitude. Our USP (unique selling proposition) is our strong aptitude skills. Once the results are out we are among top 3% and got GD / PI calls from reputed management programs. Awesome!!! Now we compete in a crowd where everyone has strong aptitude skills. Old USP won’t sell! We strive to get our life sorted out in remaining time and end up “scripting” life referring to “impressive answers”. The best answers are always honest answers. You can be 100% sure that the panel knows when you throw fake answers and they won’t “rate a book based on cover”.
"Life is like a Rubik's Cube, which has 43,252,003,274,489,000 possible configurations. There are countless numbers of wrong twists and turns, but when you get it right, it looks perfect no matter what way you look at it"
This quote perfectly depicts the way we should approach our MBA preparation plan. Solving one aspect is of no use. It is about getting all sides correct and once solved no matter which angle someone looks at you, you are a genuine MBAtious guy. Once you establish the Twists & Turns in your life are in the right direction, sailing towards a potential solved cube, your candidature looks like an offer no business school can refuse! Frame a strategy that rests on solid self-realization. This will enable you to be calm and composed when the interview becomes intense and gets into the depths of things. You would never have to worry about making up answers or exaggerating, in fact you would enjoy the process. You will be so chilled that you can drive the interview in the direction of your strong areas with solid supporting facts.
Sounds interesting? It is!!! Let’s take our first step toward being MBAtious.
Take out some time and answer below two WHYs. Once you have answers for the below daunting questions, you will automatically fall in track for your journey - MBA.
Why I want to do an MBA?
Why XYZ institute should take me in to their program?
Why I want to do an MBA?
“Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, and I will give you a stock clerk.”–J.C. Penny
An effective way to organize thoughts is to pen down your Short term and Long term goals. You may want to shift to a different career path or want to move up in career ladder or want to change from an employee to an employer. Take stock of the big decisions, achievements, challenges and failures in your professional and personal life. Analyze how they have brought you to this point in life. Usually, analyzing these directly brings you to your strengths and weaknesses. It will also help you to understand clearly how the dots in your life can be connected to your medium and long term goals, with the MBA you are planning as another dot on the way. You also need a backup plan which explains your roadmap to achieve your long term goals in case MBA plan could not be materialized.
Why XYZ institute should take me in to their program?
“I look for strong castles protected by unbreachable moats”
To Buffett, the castle is business and moat is the unique competitive advantage the company has. In our MBAtious world, Castle is built on talent and the uniqueness of the talent defines the strength of the moat. Good management programs looks for candidates who have a fine mix of business disciplines and unique talents. There are well defined phases in the admission process to check your analytical abilities and learning skills. This will help the institute to rate your chances to “survive” the program. But to showcase that you are here to “succeed” is what one should aim while approaching this question.
Understanding Unique selling proposition(USP) and key performance indicators (KPI) shall come handy while answering this question. In our case, KPI can also be considered as Key PASSION indicator. USP is your qualities which can add value to the course you are applying for. KPI will showcase those USP from a real life perspective. Take a flashback to your life. Search in your academics, co-curricular & extracurricular activities, hobbies, interests, professional and personal life and pick those AAHA moments that showcase your USP and KPI. There are set of psychological tools used very commonly to assess people, personality types, strengths and weaknesses. These can tell what you are good at, and what you are not. And by using the results, one can get a lot of insights, talking points and ideas. Some useful links are given below
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator)
Free test at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp (15 min)
Johari Window (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window)
Team Role Inventories (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Role_Inventories)
Don’t wait for the admission letter, for starting your journey towards your dream. Start Now! Your first steps towards your ambition, will convince the panel that you are serious candidate and more importantly sincere in your claims. Stay up-to-date in your field of interest; Learn and unlearn on a regular basis; Share your thoughts; Network with people who share your passion; Create a portfolio which will exhibit your passion in terms of facts & figures.
Wishing you all the best… Happy Learning… Stay MBAtious!