Meet The Top First-Year MBAs From India

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Amita Balasundaram

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A marketer, a kick-boxer, a singer, a volunteer and a multi-linguist, I focus equally on all aspects of my growth.

Hometown: Mumbai, Maharashtra

Fun Fact About Yourself: My band participated in the reality show ‘Zee Aspire’ and was selected among the top two western-music bands in Mumbai.

Undergraduate School and Major:

GRD College of Arts & Science (BSc Biotechnology 2006-2009)

SIES College of Management Studies (PGDM 2010-2012)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Mirah Hospitality – Business Development Trainee (2009-2010)

Ambuja Cements Ltd (Holcim Group) – Management Trainee (2012-2013), Marketing Executive (2013-2014)

RAK Ceramics – Assistant Brand Manager (2014-2015)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I successfully managed Ambuja Cement’s loyalty program ‘Ambuja Aasman’ for over 8,000 channel partners from 2012-2014. It was awarded the best channel loyalty program of 2014 at the Loyalty Summit in India.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? I strongly recommend that students preparing for GMAT kick start their preparation by taking a mock test. I cannot stress on this point enough, as it not only helps the students in understanding their weaknesses and strengths, but also aids them in getting familiar with the test pattern. For me, the biggest challenge was my lack of mental stamina for this 4-hour long exam, so I gave weekly mock tests to build on this. I would recommend investing about 3-4 months wholeheartedly in GMAT prep, by focusing on the weaker areas while also sharpening skills in the stronger section. I strongly believe that the GMAT is an effort test, so one can beat the odds with reasonable effort.

When applying to schools, start with a few safe schools in round one as this will help you churn out better applications in round two. It is very important that your essays display uniformity in thought and ambition, so try to question yourself at every juncture. Constant introspection will help you analyze your goals and put together genuine essays.

To stand out in interviews, I think it is very important to be spontaneous. Pre-rehearsed answers may come in handy for a set of expected questions. However, for unexpected questions, one needs to be able to think on one’s feet. This can be strengthened over time by giving many interviews or mock interviews.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? The Mendoza program appealed to me for several reasons, but the most significant among them is the high level of responsiveness that one receives from the Notre Dame community. As I started learning more about the program, I felt that both as a marketer and as an individual, Mendoza’s philosophy of integrity absolutely resonated with me. The volume of positive feedback that I received from the students and alumni was indicative of the strong sense of community, the camaraderie among peers and the inviting culture – I knew then that Mendoza was the school for me.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? I intend to make a career in consulting, preferably technology consulting or management consulting.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I hope that my business school peers will remember the best of me and my more salient characteristics, but I’d like them to describe me exactly as I am – the good, the bad and the ugly. This will ensure that I can continue to work on my inadequacies and shortcomings. If they describe me as someone who is thoughtful, willing to take initiative, approachable, energetic and ready to help, that would be an apt description of me at my best.

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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!