Reno Simon Philip
Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business
Hometown: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Undergraduate School and Major: National Institute of Technology, Trichy (NIT-Trichy), India. Major: Mechanical Engineering
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Executive Engineer, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Prior to joining Rice, I was an engineer in an offshore oil rig with an intensive work schedule. I found that maintaining a consistent study schedule for the GMAT was very challenging. Since most of you are working professionals, I believe that starting early for the GMAT and pacing yourself is key. Practice matters for a lot with the GMAT. Take time to attempt full-length tests in an actual test environment – it not only gives you additional practice, but also reinforces your confidence prior to test day. Although the GMAT is an essential component of the admissions package, it is also important to remember that there are other parts, such as the essay and recommendation letters, which are also equally important. So, spending all your time on getting the perfect GMAT score is not the only thing you should be doing. Seeking support from online communities, such as the GMAT Club, also provides essential tips and advice from fellow GMAT aspirants.
Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? I started short-listing my schools early and, initially, grouped them based on the various rankings that have been provided online. But I soon came to realize that rankings varied based on different metrics and that it did not provide the best comparison that met my needs. I formulated my own selection criterion, which included cost of attendance, post-MBA placements in the industry of my choice, quality of faculty and their industry affiliation, class size, and percentage of the class employed after graduation, to name a few. During this time I also made it a point to visit school fairs, which provides a great platform to interact with admission directors and school representatives. Through these processes I had cut-down my list from 50 to the 10 schools in which I really saw myself in. In order to get a ‘feel’ of the culture, I visited a few of these schools to understand my fit with each program. I managed to streamline my choices further and ended up applying to just four schools. Class visits are usually a huge investment of time and money, but the benefits that come with it are unparalleled.
What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Starting early and being consistent can make all the difference in your application process. Although writing the essays may seem daunting, spending time gathering your thoughts can help significantly. Think about your experiences that might highlight key skills such as leadership, teamwork, or any other characteristic that can make you a valuable addition to the school. Reach out to admission directors, school representatives, and current students to learn all that you can about the program. Schools like to know that you are aware about the program and are applying there for specific reasons – make this known in your school essay. For the admission interview, thoroughly review your resume and back it up with strong evidence of your achievements. Speak to your recommenders ahead of time and help them understand why an MBA is important to you and how it will be beneficial to your career. In order to put forward a concrete recommendation, speak to your recommenders in detail about your achievements and your contribution to the organization. Don’t assume that they know all of your work and accomplishments.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? The Rice MBA offers a flexible program that provides me with a unique opportunity to tailor my education with a concentration in energy and similar electives. The experiential learning opportunity offered through the “Action Learning Project” would enhance my educational experience by helping me apply the new skills I learn in class to a real-world consulting project. Rice’s location also plays an important role in my decision. As an oil and gas professional, it would help me leverage the strong ties that Houston has with the energy industry. Furthermore, Rice’s small cohort size would enable a closer relationship with my classmates and create a tightly woven network.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I would like to graduate with a good GPA, secure a position with an organization that aligns with my goals, and make some life-long friends at Rice. I would also like to get involved as much as I can with the activities at Rice and take up positions of responsibility that hone my leadership skills.