Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Conquering IIM-A by Sandeep Chadda


Best of luck to everyone who is preparing for MBA or appearing for interviews. I wanted to share my experience with all of you and uncover some myths to make your journey a little better and feel good about yourself. MY MBA experience is slightly long so you will have to bear with me:

I gave my CAT in 1999 and got a 99.2 percentile and did not get a call from any IIMs. I got a call from a good school but I did not go for it because of personal reasons. 

I gave my GMAT in 2003 and scored a 630. 

I gave my GMAT again in 2006 and got a 660.I applied at ISB and was waitlisted for the interview but never got a call. The reason stated was that my GMAT score was too low. I was broken and completely shattered. 

I gave my GMAT again in 2009 and got a 640. You can understand my situation now when I felt that MBA was not for me. I almost gave up and thought that this is not my cup of tea. 

I gave my GMAT again in 2012 and got a 670 and 6.0 in AA :( The score was not good and I was almost shattered. I knew I will not get any calls but I still thought of applying to some of the schools. Btw.. Some of the other folks who had applied along with me were averaging 710 +. There were others with 770s and 750s.

Anyways I went ahead and applied to IIMA, IIMB, IIMC, and IIML. I am also planning to apply to ISB. Here I want to take a small break and talk about my profile since it bears some relevance to the rest of the story.

Experience - 10 years
Field - Information Technology
Designation - Technology Architect
International Experience - 7 years
Hobbies - I teach at a Govt School, Blog (schadda.blogspot.com), and am a martial artist
Extra Curricular: I am passionate about public speaking and have been involved with Toastmasters at various levels 

So coming back to my applications, I got interview calls from IIMB, IIMC, and IIMA. IIML is yet to announce its results. To cut the long story short, I had a great interviewing experience with IIMC and IIMA. My interview with IIMB is on 17th Nov, I will share the details of the interview a little later. For now I have got a call from IIM Ahmedabad and I am ecstatic to learn that I will be able to live my dream this year. 

Now, I want to clarify some myths and share some learning:

1) It does not matter how many times you give your GMATas long as you can defend it. When I was asked this in my interview, I mentioned that I would have given it 10 more times if I am not able to convert it this time.

2) Only folks with high GMAT scores get into IIMA or prestigious institutes. I am a living example. But I must confess, in the last 2-3 years, I did not just take a break of 3 years. I built my profile as strong as possible so that I am able to defend everything I say. 

 - My communication was weak, therefore I joined Toastmasters and went on to win the regional competition in extempore speech in Michigan. 
 - My social responsibility had nothing substantial therefore I started teaching at a govt school. I am teaching there for almost 2 years now and am in love with the kids. 
 - I also started writing a blog that became very popular and has good number of hits in my technology community. 

I believe all this helped since IIMA conducts an extempore speech in the interview and that did not surprise me. 

One very important thing that I wanted to share was that though I scored a 670 in GMAT, I felt I was much better than this. Some of the fundamentals taught by Kalyan sir are embedded in my mind so well that my accuracy in SC, RC, and CR is consistently 90%. I still think 670 was a score on a day that had gone bad. 

The net story is that DO NOT GET DISHEARTENED. you have no idea what is in store for you. Your interview is also very very important and so is your profile. In IIM Bangalore GMAT holds only 10% weightage in your overall profile.

Here again I want to recollect what Kalyan sir used to tell us. YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR YOURSELF and not anyone else. it is your choice to live it with conviction. Sir, I THANK YOU AGAIN AND AGAIN for changing my perspective towards my goals. You gave me much more than just how to prepare for GMAT.

Regarding my preparation, I only read OG 10, OG 11, and OG 12. I followed what kalyan sir taught me to the core, I have great faith in his teaching style. 
Regarding my interview, I prepared for all current affairs, my engineering, and almost everything on my application form. This is how my interview went in IIMC and IIMA.


Q - Who is the CM of Bangalore?

Q - Who is the Governor of Bangalore?
Bhardwaj - Hansraj Bhardwaj

Q - Who is the previous CM of Bangalore?
Yedyurappa (Damn.. somehow Gowda slipped out of my mind) 

Q - have you heard of Gowda?
A - yes he was the previous CM, not Yedyurappa I laughed and told the professor that I goofed up.

Q - Where have you been in and around Bangalore?
A - Yes, Mysore

Q - What is that temple called on top of a hill in Mysore?
A - Nandi

Q - How far is Nandi from the base?
A - 2-3 kms, 30 min drive

Q - What are the few amazing things about the Mysore Palace?
A - Sword of Tipu Sultan which is not there anymore

Q - Whose paintings are on display at the Mysore Palace?
A - NO IDEA, but told about some fascinating paintings that I recollected seeing 7 years back

Q - Tell me about your hobbies?
A - teaching, blogging

Q - Grilled me about Vedic Mathematics? Which Vedas contain script for Vedic maths?
A - Atharvaveda..told about everything I know

Q - Which book do you refer to teach Vedic Maths?
A - Told

Q - Give an instance where referring the internet for Vedic Maths has helped you?
A - Told

Q - Why was Maths required at that time - during 3000BC when the Vedas were written?
A - Told to keep a count on the number of soldier and cavalcade for armies... 

The prof told.. it was for calculating distances and measurements and I told that I was thinking out loud

Q - If you are so passionate about teaching then why MBA?
A - Told

Q - You will lose all that you are doing now?
A - Told in negative. told about my passion. and I was candid about sharing the number of times I have applied for my GMAT and I that I will not give up.

Q - Any questions?
A - Nah.. I am good.


Got an extempore topic - If India's literacy rate is that high, then why are iNdians illetrate....

i have a habit of standing and delivering my speeches therefore I asked the professors whether I could stand and deliver. 

I gave a 3 minute speech. I had some facts in india education since I am fascinated about it. Lucky topic :)

Q - What is the literacy rate in India.. 
A - Gave the literacy rates for India, kerala, Gujarat etc

Q - What policies has India implemented for education?
A - Talked about how Bharat Nirman and MNREGA help education indirectly. 
Talked about RTE
Talked about ensuring 25% guaranteed education for impoverished in some good schools

Q - Asked full form of MNREGA?
A - Told

Q - If there is a policy that is not being implemented, then what will you do?

A - 
Talked about provisions in legislation to pass a bill
Talked about RTI
Talked about petitions etc

Q - How long have you stayed in Mexico?
A - 10 days.. 

Q - Where is Mexico?
A - Between NA and SA

Q - Laughed for a bit.. because Mexico is in NA and not between NA and SA
A - Even I laughed and acclaimed that thoda goof up ho gaya :)

Q - What language do they speak in Mexico?
A - Spanish

Q - Where is Portuguese spoken?
A - Brazil

Q - What about other countries in South America
A - Spanish

Q - What do you as an Cloud Architect? Tell me what you did yesterday?
A - Told - 

Q - What is Cloud?
A - Told

Q - Why is cloud important?
A - Told. I love my field so I had more than enough information

Q - Why do you want to do MBA? You will not be able to do any of this if you do MBA? 
A - Replied in Negative. Again there were references about my GMAT appearances and I told them that you will see me every year until you select me :) being a little cheeky

Q - What do you do in your spare time?
A - teach / blog

Q - What do you blog about?
A - Told

Q - Got details about my blog.
A - I invited them to visit my blog.

Q - Do you want to take 1 toffee?
A - Only 1 ??

They said - you can take more if you have kids
I said ... I am only a kid and took 2 and left :)

One thing I wanted to make sure was that I keep the energy levels in the room high. 

Well, this was a long post.. but I wanted to tell all of you that one thing that will take you to the best B schools is the belief in yourself. Kalyan sir shared a book with me called Think Again. One learning I took from the book was that if you train your brain to a goal, the goal will walk up to you. I believe this is what happened to me as well. 

Thank you once again Kalyan sir. You are a genius. 

Sandeep Chadda