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Meet The Top First-Year MBAs From India

Abhinav Chandra

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Pre-MBA Location: Mumbai, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: Fairly recently, I developed a keen interest in adventure tourism and I am inclined to nurture this passion going forward. A trek to the Everest base camp, an expedition to Antarctica and observing the Aurora Borealis from the Nordics are some of the items I intend to scratch off my bucket list in the near future.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Mumbai, Information Technology Major

Employers and Job Titles since Graduation: J.P. Morgan (Mumbai, India) / Junior Analyst to Analyst – Equity Capital Markets

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The multi-billion dollar IPO of a Taiwanese Pay TV business, the deal on which I was the sole ECM Analyst, has been one of the highlights of my professional career. The deal was a complex transaction in which the Pay TV business of a giant technology player based out of Taiwan was spun out on the Singapore Stock Exchange under the sponsorship of an Australian infrastructure fund.

In working on the deal, I had to deal with a fair amount of complexity in managing the various international stakeholders involved, and their differing perceptions on the structure of the listing. In the absence of any such precedent in the home market of the company, I had to thrive in ambiguity and rely in many cases on strong gut instincts while negotiating with and convincing the investor. I travelled incessantly between our Asia offices and our several international roadshows, managing time-sensitive deliverables across banks, regulators, lawyers and accountants — constantly reconciling competing point of views.

This deal provided me the unique opportunity to understand the large seismic shift in managerial cultures in Asia. With a change of guard in large business conglomerates across South Asia, where companies have grown too big to self-finance or self-manage, large portions of these businesses have now been divested to professional investors or to the public markets. This adds a high level of complexity to these deals, particularly in the attitudes of current management. This experience opened my eyes to the underlying strategic assistance these companies need as they traverse this changing wave in ownership as their capital needs evolve.

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? Before starting with the application process, its helps to take a step back and reflect on the experiences, passions and events that have helped shape your character and define who you are as a person. These experiences, coupled with in-depth research into your target program, will make a strong case for your admission. Unbiased opinions from diverse people, be it friends, family or even mentors, help add different dimensions to your application and are highly recommended throughout the admission cycle. Proactively reaching out to the admissions committee (through info sessions and MBA tours), faculty and other members of the college community also create a positive impression.

Letters of recommendation are one aspect of the MBA application that depend on external stakeholders, it is thus advisable to give your recommenders enough time because, in all likelihood, they will have other priorities as well. The most impactful recommendations usually come from people who have extensively worked with you and therefore can paint an honest picture of your character, while also adding a personal touch. Additionally, it helps to have a one-on-one meeting with your recommender prior to the process, as it can set the tone for the recommendation.

As far as MBA interviews are concerned, it is advisable to have a couple of mock interviews prior to the final interview, as this exercise helps streamline your thought process. In case of an online interview, try your best to avoid technical glitches by having a dry run prior to the final interview and making sure that the logistics are in place. Lastly, you should put your best foot forward with all honesty. At the same time, have fun during the interview (my McCombs interview was intense and fun at the same time).

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I am neither a big fan of the cold nor of large classrooms. Thus, McCombs, with its location in heart of Austin, a warm and lively city, along with its small class size, was a natural choice. I intend to pursue a career in clean technology and sustainable development and McCombs is the only program that gives me the option to explore these sunrise industries through the CleanTech and the Energy Finance concentrations. I absolutely loved the culture of the school right all the way from being interviewed by Rodrigo, the Director of Admissions, all the way to receiving my final admission packet that included a Texas MBA flag and the “Hook ‘Em Horns” slogan I perennially encounter. Additionally, I would like to highlight that I reached out to several members of the McCombs community both during and after the admission process. Each member has invested ample time and effort in mentoring me.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? (Explain how it appeals to your ambitions and values)  Personally, I am extremely passionate about renewable energy and clean technology given the kind of positive impact these industries have on society. Thus, my dream job would be with cleantech venture capital firm, as that will enable me to leverage my prior experience in the financial services industry along with my passion for sustainable development to help early growth firms in these nascent yet promising industries.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Prior to graduation, I look forward to being an active member of the McCombs community, a true “McCombie” in every sense. I intend to help out prospective students, following the footsteps of my seniors who had done the same for me, by being a part of the McCombs Ambassador Committee. Professionally, I am inclined to explore the areas of clean technology and sustainable development and engage with faculty on trends in these industries impacting the global economy. Personally, I am looking forward to soaking up the culture that Austin has to offer with its eclectic offerings in music and food, while renewing my focus on my personal fitness. Hopefully, I will be amateur football player, a sport I have no knowledge about, by the time I finish my MBA.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? Post-graduation, I hope that members of my study group, my cohort and peers across the program feel that I was able to have at least one positive impact on their lives which would have helped them either personally or professionally. I am looking to build bonds that last a lifetime and I am thus excited to debate, learn and collaborate with the various diverse members of my class. I am confident that these two years will prove to be a transformational albeit exciting experience of our lives.

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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!