Meet The Top First-Year MBAs From India

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Rahul Rathore

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A little better than I was yesterday, but not as good as I’ll be tomorrow.

Hometown: Indore, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: “Nobody plays guitar after breaking their index finger,” my orthopedic surgeon prophesized. Five years later, I’m a certified Classical Guitarist.

Undergraduate School and Major: Civil Engineering, MNNIT Allahabad, India

Employers and Job Titles since Graduation:

Assistant Manager at Welspun Energy Ltd, India

Construction Manager at Chiu Teng Construction, Singapore

 Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While working for Welspun Energy, I was chosen to lead the $132M construction of 151 Megawatt solar power plant in Neemuch, India. This opportunity required me to quickly switch between roles of a technical expert and a decision-maker. This plant was, and still is, the largest solar power plant in India and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Spanning an area greater than 500 football fields, this project had its own set of challenges. In addition to a myriad of engineering problems, the project also had to overcome several local issues. One such issue was relocating seven temples from the project site, creating local resistance, which had potential to cause religious hostility. But by actively engaging with all the stakeholders and educating them regarding how the project could impact their lives and the community, I was able to convert resistance into support. I also negotiated with bureaucrats to speed up the diversion of a state highway that passed through the project site, helping to complete the project eight months ahead of schedule.

The project has powered 624,000 homes in India and is mitigating approximately 216,372 tonnes of carbon annually. This project was inaugurated by then Chief Minister of Gujarat, and current Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi, along with Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? The admission process, without a doubt, is overwhelming and complicated. If not managed effectively, it can easily get out of control. My advice to future business school applicants would be to plan early and effectively. Make a list of schools you want to apply to, categorize them based on competitiveness, and pick a round for each school to apply in. Do not forget to spread your favorite schools throughout the process to get enough time per school and submit best application you can. Create a timeline, which will eventually keep you on track, and will allow you to ascertain your prime objectives in midst of the clutter. Once you are on track, utilize all resources at your command. Reach out to alums and current students, trying to learn things about school one might not find from website. Reach out your friends to review your essays, ask them to interview you, be open to criticism, and work on weaknesses.

There’s another thing that one must keep in mind before applying to business schools. Getting into a school might be of importance, but getting into the right school is of ESSENCE.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? For me, the collaborative culture at Smith made the program stand out from the rest. When I contacted students, both whose names were not made available via the school’s website, the feedback was consistently positive. Furthermore, the current students I reached out to never hesitated in connecting me to other students for more insights – something I didn’t experience at the other schools I applied to. The alums also were extremely helpful. One of them reached out to me by way of an international call, and answered my questions about the program for a half hour.

 Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? As a young manager in India, early success made me confident in my abilities. Probably too confident. When I took a job in Singapore, stepping out of my comfort zone, I had a real tough time. The culture was different and so too were the business practices. Thankfully back then, I had support of competent strategy consultants. Working with them, I not only overcame challenges pertaining to the job, but was also able to reflect upon myself. I realized what I had considered my best until then wasn’t enough, and how much room my best still had for improvement.  Getting inspired, I decided to work to establish myself as a successful strategy consultant, helping businesses realize their true potential.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? “He’s nothing like what he used to be 2 years ago.” I embrace change and I believe with the right efforts and right direction, changes can do wonders. Where we all are right now is certainly because of our efforts. At Smith I want to amplify my efforts to catalyze the process of personal transformation, so that when I look back, I can say, for sure, that I have grown for good.

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    A large fraction of the Indian students who study at B-schools in India, join the programs just after completing their undergrad education. These Indian MBA programs are most likely like the pre-experience Masters in Management degrees offered at places outside India. In the US or Europe, MBA programs expect candidates to acquire a number of years of experience. So going for an MBA in the US, after completing an MBA from India and working a few years in industry does not fall out of place. Moreover, I think that B-schools in the US/ Europe are able to provide the students with more international/ global exposures. Last thing is, the Indian schools lack overall recognition outside of India. The US/EU schools and their parent universities are world renowned.

  • Rajeev

    Wonder why there are folks who already have an MBA and still going to US to get another one!