USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Darden | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10
Wharton | Mr. Indian VC
GRE 333, GPA 3.61
MIT Sloan | Mr. Tech Enthusiast
GRE 325, GPA 6.61/10
Harvard | Mr. Midwest Dreamer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Foster School of Business | Ms. Diamond Dealer
GRE 308, GPA Merit
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Undergraduate GPA
GMAT 720 (Expected), GPA 2.49
Stanford GSB | Ms. Try Something New
GMAT 740, GPA 3.86
Darden | Mr. Military Missile Defense
GRE 317, GPA 3.26

Coming To America For An MBA: The Journey From India

Indiana Kelley MBA student Sagar Basantani with his parents in India’s Golden City


Some students take a somewhat less traditional path. Pankaj Jethwani, 28, was a primary care physician in India before becoming a 2018 Wharton candidate. As a doctor, he would sometimes see up to 60 patients a day. After some time, Jethwani wanted to see if he could make a greater impact by solving the issues in the health care industry itself. After getting a consulting gig with the Boston Consulting Group, he realized that he wanted to merge both his interests in business and healthcare.

Pankaj Jethwani is getting his MBA at Wharton

“I was working in the healthcare system in India, and the system was clearly broken. So I wanted to work in health care, but I wanted to look at the health system from a broader lens and to try to address some of these system issues,” explains Jethwani.

The pedagogies between India and the U.S. are vastly different, which is appealing for many Indian students. Lectures and tests drive the education system in India, while the American education system focuses more on collaboration and discussion and how to get to the right answer.


“When I was in India, it was all about the academics and the exams and even when I was in my undergrad, it was a huge class and it was a very technical degree,” recalls Bajaj. “The classroom interaction was not that strong. After coming here, my favorite part was coming to class. You learn from everyone’s views and perspectives, and that’s something very different than what I’ve experienced before.”

The skills these students learn in U.S business schools are also a reason for many to take the long journey to America to gain an MBA degree. “I think those skill sets help students be good leaders and the academic life at Wharton — academics and extracurricular activities and recruiting — teaches students how to hustle more,” says Manisha Jain, Wharton MBA Career Management advisor and formerly an MBA student herself. “All of this combines together to make the education so much more personal and valuable. When they’re out in the real world, they are just not good workers but also good leaders and managers.”

Basantani agrees. “It helped me get to know myself better, project myself better, to be able to create a personal brand from myself,” he said.


In addition, business schools often have specific programs for international students to help ease the transition, and, in general, are committed to creating an inclusive communities for their students. Programs may include one-on-one coaching, events, cultural groups, and speaker series. One of the biggest cultural events at Cornell is Diwali, a traditional Indian event, that always draws a huge turnout of both students and faculty. Indian students at Cornell say they didn’t have much trouble getting integrated into the community.

Since most programs are shorter than a typical undergraduate education, it’s necessary for students to quickly adjust to the new setting. “If you think of undergrad as a marathon, the MBA is like a sprint because you’re on campus and three weeks in, recruiting is starting,” says Amanda Shaw, assistant dean of student services at the Johnson College of Business. “It isn’t different challenges [from undergraduate students], but it is on an accelerated timeline.”

B-school training gives Indian students the ability to pursue ambitious pursuits. Some will stay in the U.S. for a couple of years and then head home to help improve India’s business. Others hope to work in the U.S. for the long-term. Bajaj hopes to land a business leadership role in the lucrative tech industry. Due to innovation in the health care industry in the U.S. as well as having a lot of family members in the U.S., Panjar plans on staying and wants to start something entrepreneurial.

Basantani also plans on remaining in the U.S. for some time and then eventually making his way back home. After having a positive experience at Deloitte, Basantani would be interested in working again at their offices in India and being placed in the strategy and operations practice. “I want to gain the experience and learn business in the U.S. and take the best practices back to India,” he says.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.