Meet the Indian School of Business’ MBA Class of 2017

Students in the Class of 2017 at the Indian School of Business

Young. Hungry. Innovative. Demanding.

Those are just a few labels that have been applied to the Indian School of Business. An upstart business program founded by McKinseyites in 2001, the school describes itself as the place “where leaders are made.” While the program follows the blueprint of being India’s answer to INSEAD, it ultimately aspires to something even greater.

“As a school, our desire is to benchmark ourselves against the top five schools globally — the Kelloggs, Whartons, Harvards, and so on,” emphasized Ajit Rangnekar, the school’s former dean, in a 2011 interview with Poets&Quants.


Hyperbole? Give ISB an A for effort. In just 15 years, the program has climbed to 27th globally in the latest Financial Times ranking, finishing in the top third in both the career progress and alumni recommendation categories. Featuring a demanding mix of thought-provoking cases and technical training, the program has emerged as perhaps India’s premier business research school. In the process, employers have taken notice. The number of job offers rose by 16% in the past year (and were up 82% in the last five years). At the same time, according to The Financial Times, starting pay (in weighted U.S. dollars) jumped 11% to $138,454, with 2016 graduates receiving offers from heavyweights like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, ad PwC.

It hasn’t been an easy rise to the top. ISB was launched just when business education had exploded in India. Thanks to a far-sighted strategy, the school has thrived where others have faltered. How? To start, the school formed strong ties with leading MBA programs early on, enlisting Kellogg, Wharton, and LBS to assist with their curriculum and operations. It also gained cache by building a star-studded Board of Directors, which currently includes Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett, former Citigroup CEO Vikram S. Pandit, Dell CEO Michael Dell, and Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd Blankfein.

The program also wisely differentiated itself from other industry players. The main difference is that ISB offers a one-year MBA, attracting professionals who were reluctant to give up two years of their career (and the accompanying pay) to pursue an MBA. As a result, admissions placed heavy emphasis on experience, creating richer classroom discussions grounded in real world contexts as a result.


“We have generally seen that ISB students have a larger risk appetite and have set precedents in going after what they want,” shares Shiv Kumar, ISB’s Director of Student Engagement and Applied Learning, in a written statement to P&Q. “This is a one- year course and hence dealing with pressure and deadlines comes as a major challenge that all graduating students champion. The ISB MBA is designed for folks who come with some experience. Unlike other business schools that take students mostly on the basis of analytical skills, ISB looks at the overall performance of the student.”

That said, ISB is no academic lightweight. The 2017 Class, for example, averaged a 704 GMAT, scores that exceed their counterparts at Oxford, Cambridge, and HEC Paris. In fact, this average is just four points lower than INSEAD.  “We gave the market a very different product, adds Rangnekar, who joined GMAC as a senior executive in 2015. “They were not just another substitute for the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) graduates, but a different category of people – more mature and more well-rounded.”

In a 2014 interview with P&Q, Arun Pereira, an executive director at the school who came to Hyderabad after a 17 year stint at St. Louis University, described the student body as “highly intelligent and highly intense.” Not surprisingly, great students attract great teachers. That, coupled with an extensive network of partnerships, has helped ISB attract visiting scholars from the world’s top programs. This year alone, the program boasts professors from Northwestern (Kellogg), Wharton, Stanford, London Business School, University of Chicago (Booth), New York University (Stern), UCLA (Anderson), and Emory (Goizueta). In fact, visiting faculty teach roughly half of the courses, exposing ISB students to the best business ideas and practices from across the globe.


For Santosh Baradwaj, a member of the 2017 Class, the ISB has more than lived up to its billing so far.

“The MBA, for me, was to take a step back from the corporate set up and refine and formalize the skills I had acquired on the field,” he explains. “With 10 years of experience in sales, one tends to get straight jacketed into functions and I wanted to break those shackles and get a foot in the door in any industry, domain, or function and I feel that MBA from ISB helped me achieve that.”

Baradwaj isn’t the only one who’s excited about the 2017 Class’ prospects. Kumar notes that the class’ 908 students represent the largest class ever.  It may also be its most diverse too. “If there is one truth for the Class of 2017,” he observes, “it is that every professional here is exceptional in some way or the other. From 22 year-old founders of international startups to food scientists, naval commanders and award-winning advertisement executives, ISB boasts an immensely diverse set of people. This diversity stems from not just their places of origin or hometowns, but also from the wealth of experience they bring to the table. [They] include professionals from the fields of medicine, the government and non-governmental organizations, scientific researchers (some of whom also hold patents), sports enthusiasts and performing artists, media professionals and the likes.”

A student in a class at the Indian School of Business

While three quarters of the class consists of engineers, Kumar notes that these students are a fry cry from the introverted and unimaginative stereotype slapped on them. “I like to believe the batch of people we have here are engineers with their own quirks and talents. You’ll find an engineer or a consultant at every school. But you won’t find a former engineer- turned-marketer-turned entrepreneur- turned consultant anywhere else other than ISB.”


Indeed, you’ll find plenty of inventive and engaging students in ISB’s Class of 2017. Robin Malik, for one, describes himself as “an entrepreneur, mountaineer and paragliding pilot launching a Fintech startup using Blockchain. Anshul Tibrewala humbly positions himself as “your friendly neighborhood giant, seeker of stories, bathroom singer, and a comedy of errors.” And Purva Tidke admits her strengths are, shall we say, contextual. “I am a passionate dancer, loud thinker and a marketing enthusiast. I love to get to the root of things which is an awesome quality to have in professional life, but is a little taxing in personal life.”

It is also a class with a fearless passion for life. Malik journeyed across a Himalayan range on an Enfeld, while Baradwaj cycled 2,400 kilometers from Bangalore to Delhi for charity. Age isn’t an issue for

Shyam Nambiar, a Commander in the Indian Navy, who ran his first marathon at 38. If you’re looking for Vivek Desai, just follow the headphones. “Music is my caffeine,” he says. “It always keeps going, be it while working, studying or just relaxing. Thus, it won’t be surprising if somebody thinks that earphones are a part of my body.”


  • avivalasvegas

    You hit the nail on the head! Most of my Indian classmates were like fish out of water during their 2 years at my B school because they didn’t know how to socialize, build and leverage a network and collaborate on projects. It was almost as if all their hard work to get to this point was the sole limiting factor in how little they got out of their degree. Most left with no non-Indian connections and a consulting job they didn’t really want.

  • Navu

    Why I did not join Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) and Indian School Of Business (ISB)

  • avivalasvegas

    You’ve done a great job highlighting the strengths of your school and your ability to debate using fact. Your attempt to link an M7 program with the top Indian schools is just as laughable.

    My disrespect isn’t targeted at ISB – as I have said multiple times it is a commendable option if you want to live in India only. I like to target the fools on these forums who think they can spew out baseless claims (like yours) and obscure data points and expect that anyone will fall for their attempts at justifying, ultimately, their own choices.

  • avivalasvegas

    I’m not implying anything. I’m stating facts. Here are two again:

    1) Most people from India want to relocate to the West after their MBA degrees. Can’t say I blame them – the compensation and standard of life is significantly better here. ISB, as you rightly concede, doesn’t give them the opportunity to do that. A top tier US MBA program does.

    2) Those that relocate after their Indian degrees are usually tech/ tech consulting experienced hires, often hired to fill the gaps in the US technology talent supply pipeline. For them, an Indian MBA adds little to no value and they are often paid a fraction of salary their US Top Tier MBA peers command. That includes your Indian “junta” leaders you claim lead your big tech company.

    I fall into the group of well travelled, raised in the West, Top 3 MBA program alumni who work for a Fortune 30 company. Given the garbage you’ve littered these forums with, I’m not too worried about your comparison of me with an ISB grad, “Dude”.

  • Ajami

    The article is about ISB, no mention for IMD! why did you bring it here?!

  • True Story

    Here is a reminder: http : // poetsandquants . com/2014/10/30/more-turmoil-in-imds-mba-program/

  • Warren

    It is the real number. I know it hurts you that people getting aware of the weak value of IMD after the idiot destroyed it, but you have to face reality, it is IMD MBA that has been free falling for the last four years. Even here you desperately trying to attach its name with INSEAD. it is an outdated try. people only mention IMD when talking about nice short course in lausanne. For MBA, it is even kicked out of the university of lausanne patronage.

  • avivalasvegas

    I actually agree that ISB is probably at par with the 11-20 ranked B schools. But only if you’re planning on zero career mobility and want to stay in India.

  • avivalasvegas

    Hello again “Dude”,

    I didn’t claim SP Jain is better. Poets and Quants did. Nuff said.

  • avivalasvegas

    If I were simply making a point about on cost of living, then ISB delivers reasonably well in India. I wasn’t.

    What I was trying to illustrate is that an Indian subway sandwich and 1BHK apartment is the extent of optionality available to an ISB grad. Forget about SFO or NY. Forget about that bag of $12 on a sandwich and bag of chips.

    It isn’t recognized i.e. the ISB degree is about as worthless as the lavatory toilet paper at most international firms located outside of India, “Dude”.

  • C. Taylor

    Warren aka ‘IMD-Insider’, you’ve been wrong each year since IMD and INSEAD rejected you.

    So why keep posting false numbers?

  • IMD-Insider


  • Warren

    Do you have the latest number of applicants for IMD class 2017? 🙂

  • C. Taylor

    Although you could compare RSM to HSG, none of what you’ve typed here is accurate enough to even approach being useful.

  • Warren

    No problem, I understand your frustration. In a highly competitive business education world, it is impossible to reverse course, IMD has fallen and disappeared 🙂 Now, no one mention it with SDA Bocconi, or Ersamus RSM, let alone IE or HEC. HSG is the best in Switzerland.


    In my company, a $4B revenue conglomerate, they regard ISB as equivalent to Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.

  • C. Taylor

    Wow; warren, aka radish, aka yaniv, aka etc., etc. really went to town here. Warren, you’re hurting the cause here, not helping it.

    For everyone else:

    ISB is a good choice for anyone settled on India.

    Disregarding international mobility, Null Null made a good point with the elite European MiM vs. PGP at IIM Ahmedabad, etc. comparison (think Kellogg’s MiM, Americans). I also think avivalasvegas’s approach to purchasing power is a reasonable but conservative one–same company comp to comp. Base to base salary, that is ~2+ rupees to the dollar.

    To form a base level / worst case comparison; what data I have seen makes it difficult to argue you are worse off at ISB than at respected Western programs which are regionally focused. Id est, Foster or Indiana.

    Again disregarding international mobility, a very rough equivalent might be Rice, as Rice provides great career outcomes down the road and places very well but places mostly in the Southwest US. ISB places well in India. Same for Emory as with Rice, but Emory is far from being as regionally focused as ISB.

    None of this considers cost-of-living pay variations across different regions, such as the Southwest US or the deutschsprachigen Raum (dR). Seriously, native-level English + native-level German will allow you to pull bank after graduating from HSG in Switzerland*. Something to consider for someone weighing a future choice between the regions served by, say, ISB, Foster, and HSG. Of course, with Foster and HSG you always have the option of returning to India after a few years–and at potentially lucrative pay rates if you transfer
    internally. Not so clear ISB provides outward mobility.

    Things change fast in some emerging markets, so keep an eye out for ISB in ten years.

    * Top programs in the dR are working to increase their international profile.

  • Abhay Gupta

    Dude reading your earlier comment I thought you are anti-ISB but reading this comment it seems you are stupid to say the least!
    A subway sandwich and a small bag of chips cost $10 here. Is it INR 670 in India? I pay $1400 for my 1 BHK is it 94k/mnth in India? Infact in SFO and NY the rent is close to $2500.

    As per PPR 1 USD= 17 INR.

  • Abhay Gupta

    I am currently in US and share your thoughts. My boss is IIT+Havard and I have few more indians from Best of US B Schools such as Ross, Tepper etc. They all put ISB in high regard.

  • Abhay Gupta

    ISB is > US Top 11-20 schools any day for aspirants who want to settle in India.
    Also ISB donot invite TCS, Wipro, Infosys. There is a min salary bar that a company has to offer to come and recruit a ISB’ian. It is currently 14 lpa. While this may look small figure we need to understand ISB also has folks who have 2 yrs experience. For them getting this salary is best trajectory they could get from any B School in India.

    Final Judgement: ISB is in the same league as IIM A, B and C. And in Indian market these brands rules.

  • Abhay Gupta

    Amrita: Rightly said! I think most of the rant is created by students that are not able to get admit into ISB and spread false info around. It is sad that an institution that is bringing accolades to Indian Mgmt education at a global stage isn’t been appreciated by our own students. My brother went to Kellogg’s( he was also a dean student at IIT Powai) and has high regard for ISB. Infact few of his batchmates did choose ISB over other Top US B Schools.

    @aryan_khan_Baltimore:disqus @avivalasvegas:disqus: It is good to be passionate about your school but claiming SP Jain is better than ISB shows your immaturity as a future manager. I hope post B schools you are better at admitting facts. Period.

  • Amrita Sarkar

    First-This is not an advertisement post. Poets and Quants is a really genuine source of B school information. ISB is definitely an elite school and when people are comparing it with IIMs lets make it very clear that we are comparing it only with A and B. Honestly even C does not make the cut. SP Jain? seriously we are comparing ISB to SP jain. Students in India with an undergrads from NIT avoids SP Jain for a B school.

    Last admission season I managed couple of admits with ISB being one of them and I have to stay back in India I will definitely look at ISB over an IIM A PGPX, reason-
    1)alumni circle
    2)exchange programs
    3)class diversity
    5)Global exposure.

    Thus I rest my case

  • FingWangIII

    I completely disagree. This notion does not make any sense.

  • avivalasvegas

    While I agree with your comment that if you want to settle in India, ISB and IIM-A will serve you well in the more traditional career paths, I want to highlight two very important facts:

    1) Most Indians at Top tier MBA programs do not want to return to their home country. My Indian classmates admitted that they were willing to do anything, even management consulting, to avoid it. Many of them have reached to me looking for opportunities to exit their firms since but face worsening Visa sponsorship obstacles.

    2) An IIM or ISB is not looked at in the same light as HBS, Stanford, Wharton, MIT and Kellogg. For some reason, these 5 schools have earned themselves disproportionately more prestige in India than some of them may deserve. But when professional organizations learn that a candidate is from one of these schools in India, the equation becomes extremely favorable for the grad in question.

  • NotAtALL

    “Just being an indian raised in india is more than enough to be global mind” – That’s what I call a lack of global outlook, my friend, India is not all there is. There is more to the world.

    “You may be an INDIAN but most likely raised in US or Europe where they don’t know anything about the outsider world.” – tolerant perspective? I definitely don’t see that either!

  • TopUS_School

    You got to be kidding me

  • BothAreAmazing

    Insightful discussion. I went through this dilemma a few years ago because I was accepted to ISB and a top 15 school.

    My personal opinion is that Indian B-school students “work much harder” whereas US B-school students “know what they want” and usually have more work experience to back up their claims. Going to IIMs/ISB/top 15 schools in the US offer great opportunities I think it essentially comes down to what works best for you.

    If you are looking to pursue a more traditional post-MBA role like consulting or finance then it depends mainly where you intend on working geographically. The alumni network of ISB will no doubt be stronger in India so if you want to settle in India then there’s no reason to look outside.

    However, if you’re more interested in something non-traditional I believe that Many (not all of them) of the top schools outside open more opportunities. If you already have relevant experience in that area then you definitely can land that role. For example, MBA grads who want to work in the media and entertainment industry who want to work in Hollywood, or some one in luxury goods might prefer HEC Paris.

    I don’t want to go into the discussion of which is better, rankings work on certain metrics and industry perception is what matters more. I think the general industry perception WORLDWIDE is that the M7 are the best and they are known in probably every single country.. But within India, ISB and IIMs are looked at as equal to their western counterparts. It really comes down to what you are looking for, and if global mobility factors into your decision.

  • radish

    Another chance for you to clear you are not naive: HOW DID YOU CONCLUDE THAT 23 Lacs is COMPARABLE TO 36K USD?! !!!!

  • avivalasvegas

    “Why should I master English?! It is not my mother tongue!”

    Truly, a global response. I rest my case.

  • avivalasvegas

    When McKinsey makes a job offer to a fresh Top Tier MBA candidate for a US location, it is typically for a USD 145K + Sign on + Benefits.

    The same role is offered in India for the same graduate @ Rs.50 Lacs or USD 70K. Smaller signing bonus and no benefits.

    That’s my measure of parity. Not an irrelevant index used to mask the true disparity of earning potential for Indian MBA graduates.

  • radish

    Why should I master English?! It is not my mother tongue! I need just enough to work and live, other than that no need. Can you please answer the above question on how did you find that 23 Lacs is comparable to 36K? It is important to elaborate your ignorance..

  • avivalasvegas

    700 languages and you’re clearly struggling with English. If only being raised with an Indian upbringing qualified one with a global outlook. Sadly, the only thing it statistically does is limit your chances for a truly global education, one an IIM/ ISB/ SP Jain student will likely never receive.

  • Null null

    Well, I believe that both ISB and IIM are very good schools. But to compare them with M7 schools, or even top 20 ones come as a bit ludicrous. Are you even serious to put a Stanford/HBS degree below IIMs? While I can’t concur with avilasvegas regarding the salary data, especially considering that he did not factor PPP into account, your opinion goes far too extreme as well.

  • Yaniv

    It seems that he does not know what does PPP mean!

  • radish

    “requires students to build a global outlook” and ” tolerant perspective” You tell this to a citizen of a country of more than 700 languages, 700 religions, many many races, in the center of the world! Just being an indian raised in india is more than enough to be global mind and have the most global outlook ever. You may be an INDIAN but most likely raised in US or Europe where they don’t know anything about the outsider world.

  • radish

    Could you please share with us how did you get that 23 Lacs is around 36K ?

  • avivalasvegas

    Sorry to say, 23 Lac Rupees is around USD 36K. That is a US undergrad intern level salary. Your claim that the two levels are equivalent across geographies highlights the flimsiness of your claim.
    Yes, the rat race is much more aggressive and sometimes unfair in India. But that doesn’t make a school like ISB or IIM an equal to any Top 20 global MBA program. Far from it! To claim otherwise would only highlight ignorance.

  • NotAtALL

    “Working much harder” does not essentially mean better talent. Infact that is the problem with Indian students, they work so hard to crack the CAT and then work so hard in B-School (mostly focused on cracking exams) that somewhere down the road they push the personal/overall development to the backseat. (although I am not generalizing this for all, I know quite a few brilliant Indians, I am an Indian too). I am not here to compare whether ISB is better or worse, but a Business Degree requires students to build a global outlook and a tolerant perspective, both of which are more available in US/UK b-schools compared to Indian B-schools. I know (many) people from ISB and IIMs who are my close friends and colleagues at work, and they themselves strongly recommended me to pursue an MBA abroad as the first option.

  • radish

    For your info, 23 lacs is comparable to $132k in US, converted using PPP. This is quite good salary given the tough competition. Unlike people at top US schools, students at ISB worked much harder to make it before and after the school, this makes them much better than their counterparts in europe or US. Employers know this and are aware that ISB and IIM grads are the best in the world. No, I did not attend ISB, I have attended top 15 US school and exchanged at top 3 European school, from my experience, the quality is same across the board, but students in india worked much harder to make it.

  • avivalasvegas

    Are you an ISB alum?

    Nothing has changed. ISB is bound to be more talked about in Indian business circles because Top tier MBA alums prefer not to work in Indian circles. Why would they when they are paid significantly less to work in an environment that is far less rewarding, in every sense of the word? ISB’s average base pay is Rs. 23 lacs. Now compare that to top tier MBA base pay salaries that are twice that of ISB. That doesn’t include any bonuses or additional payouts.

    You’re more likely to find Top Tier MBAs at C-level roles in India. How many ISB alums have those?

  • radish

    You are right if it was 2004 or 2006! But it is 2017, a lot has changed. ISB considered peer and comparable to HBS, Stanford, and Wharton, and way ahead of Kellogg, Haas, or Columbia. INSEAD or LBS, no one in the indian business circles mention them for comparison to IIM-A or ISB. In fact, there is a saying in idnian business market that combining IIT with IIM is much better than combining Stanford and HBS.

  • avivalasvegas

    Sorry to say John, but ISB can’t hold a candle to some of the schools in your comparison table. The caliber of students just isn’t there. It’s essentially an institute for high-ish GMAT students who don’t have what it takes get into the Top 20 global MBA institutions and, in rare instances, those who chose not to leave their home country.

    The biggest tell here is the dearth of candidates from other countries, leading to minimal student diversity and in total contrast to your statement on crediting the school’s diveristy. Add in the massive over-indexation of tech undergrads, and you’ve basically got a feeder pool for Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Tech Mahindra and Cognizant India. And while that’s okay for some, I would rather hire an INSEAD, IMD or HEC grad any day of the week.


    I second John. Through CAT, people get into IIM’s pre-work MBA option. That is equivalent to the programs like MiM outside of India. IIMs post-work MBA option, aka PGPEX is equivalent to the MBA program, rest of the world as well as ISB offer. Honestly, I cannot regard a program or its students that bad given the high stat.
    Also, reference to the ivy league for the best applies mainly to the undergrad education. For MBA, many of the gold standard schools are non-ivy ones. Notably Princeton even does not offer an MBA

  • Let me assure that this is not an “advertisement by ISB.” While we think several of the IIMs are superb institutions, we have visited the ISB and believe it to be the best business school in India. CAT scores are no determinant of a business person’s success, and we are not equating ISB with HBS, Stanford, Wharton, or any of the other elite business schools in the world. But our story is an acknowledgement that ISB is a player in the world of graduate business education and that it draws exceptional students on a regular basis. As for saying that the school’s visiting profs–from some of the best schools in the world–are not motivated to give their best, I have to strongly disagree with you. How would you know that? I know of many Indian-born professors at leading U.S. business schools who enthusiastically teach at ISB and do so with genuine passion and a sense of giving back to their home country. If anything, I would hazard a guess that they are more motivated to do their best at ISB than at their own schools.

  • Aryan Khan

    This is all nothing but plain and simple advertisement by ISB at this blog. The fact remains that ISB will always remain a notch below IIMs and can never compete or be at par with IIMs. Only people who are not able to crack the CAT or who are not able to get an ivy leage admission in US, land up at ISB. ISB does not even have a strong resident faculty staff, and borrows professors from outside who are not motivated to give their best at ISB