Meet The Top First-Year MBAs From India

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Amrinder Singh Chawla

Columbia Business School 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A global nomad who has studied, worked and lived in three continents

Hometown: Jalandhar, Punjab, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I run (along with couple friends from Cambridge) a movie discovery and review aggregation platform called Philmy that is focused on Bollywood and regional Indian cinema.

Undergraduate School and Major:

  • Georgia Tech – B.S. in Electrical Engineering
  • University of Cambridge – MPhil in Management Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • ZS Associates – Summer Associate / Business Analytics Associate / Senior Business Analytics Associate / Associate Consultant
  • Hindustan Petroleum (LPG Distributor) – Business Operations
  • BluePrint Research Group – Consultant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: After leaving ZS Associates, I took a gap year to help streamline supply chain operations and delivery logistics in my family’s small-sized LPG distribution business in Punjab, India. I oversaw the implementation and deployment of new inventory management and accounting systems which had a significant impact on improving our efficiency and operations. I personally managed the hiring and training of a new team of sales and marketing reps which greatly enhanced our firm’s client base and demand forecasting processes. Under my leadership, we steadily improved from being a “1-star” distributorship to being recognized as a “5-star” distributorship by the Indian Government in less than a year.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? There are couple key pieces of advice that I would give to future business school applicants. Firstly, get your overall story and personal branding right. It’s important that you deeply think through how you are going to position yourself as an applicant before you even start drafting your applications. While the high GMAT scores and GPAs are important, it is often the quality of your essays and how coherent your story is that will distinguish you from other applicants.

Secondly, I would recommend doing a campus visit to the schools that you are considering applying. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to distinguish school A vs. school B purely based on information available on school websites and online forums. Spending time on campus, attending classes and interacting with students/faculty will give applicants better insight into the unique environment that each school has to offer. If campus visit is not possible, I would strongly recommend that applicants speak to as many current students and recent alumni to get a true flavor of each school.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Columbia’s strong emphasis on tying theoretical learnings with real-world application was the core reason why I chose CBS for my full-time MBA program. The business school offers a lot of programs that students can partake in while taking classes such as school-year internships, value-investing program, InSITE fellowship, start-up labs etc. These programs not only allow students to take their learnings outside the classroom and apply them on actual business problems but also give them the chance to explore a diverse range of professional roles beyond the traditional summer internship. Additionally, with the NYC presence, I knew being at Columbia would give me unparalleled access to networking and other professional opportunities (such speaker series, leadership labs, and executives-in-residence) both inside and outside the campus.

Lastly, on a personal note, a critical factor that led me to choose CBS for my full-time MBA was the community aspect. During my initial school research phase, every time I reached out to a CBS alum or student club member, I was amazed by their prompt responses and eagerness to help. During my campus visit, I got the opportunity to meet with admissions advisors and interact with several students in Uris Hall. The warmth and openness with which every member of the CBS community treated me made me feel right at home and sparked a feeling in me that CBS was the place where I could see myself spending next two years of my life.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? Coming from an engineering background where I studied computer networking, semiconductor design and digital signal processing, the technology and telecommunications space is something I have always been quite interested in. On a professional front, most of the skill-set that I have gained through my work experience has been in business analytics, operations, and general management. Lastly, on a personal side, as a self-confessed news-junkie and movie-buff, I have always been very fascinated by the media industry and how it impacts our society.

At CBS, I am hoping to combine all these elements and find an exciting opportunity with a company which is working at the intersection of all these domains. So, post-MBA I will be eyeing a general management or business strategy role with a data/technology oriented media firm or work with a strategy consulting firm that has a strong TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) practice.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? The MBA program at Columbia is all about creating consequential leaders and I strongly believe that leadership is not about collecting official titles for your resume, but about making an impact in the lives of others every single day, in every single moment. That is the philosophy and the virtue that I want to bring to the CBS family and be remembered for by my peers after I graduate from the program. During my time at CBS, the thing I want to work the most towards is fostering bonds, building friendships and creating connections, both personal and professional, that will last a lifetime. While I will follow an aggressive career, attend  networking sessions, organize club activities, participate in case competitions and meet industry leaders as a way to fulfill my post-MBA dreams, I will be sure to continue to indulge in small acts of kindness to support Team CBS and contribute to the building of a strong and vibrant community.

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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!