Yale | Mr. Army Pilot
GMAT 650, GPA 2.90
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
INSEAD | Mr. Tesla Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Tech To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
INSEAD | Ms. Investment Officer
GMAT Not taken, GPA 16/20 (French scale)
Cornell Johnson | Mr. SAP SD Analyst
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Startup Of You
GMAT 770, GPA 2.4
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Admit
GMAT Waived, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Mr. International PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.3
Harvard | Mr. Policy Development
GMAT 740, GPA Top 30%
Ross | Mr. Brazilian Sales Guy
GRE 326, GPA 77/100 (USA Avg. 3.0)
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Hopeful
GMAT -, GPA 2.9
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Against All Odds
GMAT 720, GPA 2.9
Wharton | Ms. Finance For Good
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future VC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Investment Associate
GMAT 700, GPA 3.67
Kellogg | Ms. Public School Teacher
GRE 325, GPA 3.93
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Reform
GRE 331 (Practice), GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Fund
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Mr. Future In FANG
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Officer
GRE 325, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Italian In Tokyo
GMAT (710-740), GPA 4.0
Kellogg | Mr. IDF Commander
GRE Waved, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
Yale | Mr. Healthcare Geek
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
USC Marshall | Mr. Low GPA High GMAT
GMAT 740, GPA 2.44
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80

2019 MBAs To Watch: Vigneshwaran Ilango, University of Maryland (Smith)

Vigneshwaran Ilango

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

An enthusiastic novice skier and globetrotter who loves experiencing new cultures.”

Hometown: Chennai, India

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a certified paragliding pilot.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Technology (Production Engineering), National Institute of Technology, Trichy, India

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Worked as a Business Intelligence Consultant in a UK-based BI consultancy firm in Bangalore, India

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Citibank, Risk Management Intern, FinTech (New York City)

Where will you be working after graduation? Citibank, Senior Program Analyst, FinTech (New York City)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Vice President of International Student Affairs, MBA Association
  • Vice President of Logistics, International MBA Association
  • Board Member, MBA Consulting Club
  • Board Member, Supply Chain and Operations Club
  • Smith Ambassador
  • Graduate Assistant, Center for Health Information Decisions Systems
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Facilitated International Alumni Webinar Series

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Nearing the end of my first year in the MBA program, I was awarded the William D Bradford Award for exceptional academic achievement and support of diversity and inclusion initiatives. This has been my proudest moment in the program, as it reflected the main purpose for me travel thousands of miles from home to pursue this degree: to gain knowledge both inside and outside of a diverse classroom setup.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The moment of my full-time offer, following my internship at Citi. The initial expectations set forth suggested that a full-time offer would not be in the cards. However, I strongly believed that a firm like Citi would never say no to hard-0working talent, and three months of hard work (probably the hardest I have ever worked) gained the trust of my manager, who went out of her way to extend the offer to me despite the current visa tension in the United States.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Shreevardhan Lele. Game Theory, taught by Lele, is a must-take class at Smith, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. His passion for the subject, dry humor, and the pace at which he teaches were just perfect. More than his presence inside of a classroom, he is more fun in a social setting, when he talks about current affairs and sometimes student psychology. We have had some interesting out-of-classroom conversations and game nights, and he is by far my favorite MBA professor.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Valuations – even though my career concentration is not Finance. This course pushed my limits in terms of the workload. Assigned one company each week to follow and value, we made key assumptions about the future direction of the company. For me, the biggest takeaway from this course is that one cannot always have all the data points that he/she might need or want. It is important to get comfortable dealing with ambiguity, making calculated assumptions, and moving forward. Most importantly, we made decisions based on both quantitative and qualitative insights which truly prepares one for the real world.

Why did you choose this business school? I’ve pursued an MBA outside of my home country primarily to gain a global perspective. Although coursework is important, I strongly believe that peer-to-peer learning in an MBA program is as important to contribute to personal development. The Smith School is especially known for its collaborative/welcoming culture, smaller cohorts, and a lineup of well-established faculty who are doing groundbreaking research. And, Smith is a business school that is aggressive in extending scholarships for its full-time MBAs.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? My advice: Complete the GMAT/GRE as early as possible, be very genuine in the admission essays, and focus on unique aspects you have to offer to your prospective MBA community. For example, Smith, like all the good MBA programs, values the diversity in the classroom, so identifying that and projecting it in the essays and interview will go a long way.

What is the biggest myth about your school? People from outside of, or not familiar with, Greater Washington might view the Smith School’s College Park location as a ‘college town’ and associate it with a low cost of living. To the contrary, the cost of living is close to par with the surrounding D.C. metro region.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Two years ago, I wish someone had sat me down and explained that the MBA pursuit is not a race. Being from India, where MBA classrooms are so competitive, I was ready to sprint from the word go when I reached the U.S. In fact, I did such for a couple of months, as I attended every possible event, seminar, and social gathering. But in a couple of months, I realized the importance of prioritizing and focusing on what I wanted. All of a sudden, I had all the time in the world. This helped me reduce the stress, gain a lot more time, and at the same time, make memories with the wonderful set of people around me.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Apart from learning from the coursework, the single most monumental change for me is the confidence level I have right now. I’m generally very confident. When I decided to leave my country, I did not know what to expect. I did not know whether I had the caliber in me to stand out in an international crowd of others of diverse background and experience. However, my MBA experience empowered me to express myself, make high-impact presentations in front of big and influential crowds, and navigate within teams of diverse background. As a result, I have the confidence to stand in front of any crowd and be myself.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Nat Tangpipith: She is the most active person I know, always full of energy, taking up new challenges, and going out of her way to help anyone around her in every little way possible. She is one of the main reasons our cohort is as closely knit as it is. She has an aura about her that brings people together. Apart from the social aspect, she is a smart civil engineer, with a passion for event planning and one of the star performers in a summer internship at PepsiCo.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom and dad. Both have been equally influential in this decision. They always believed in me, wanted me to get the exposure, and encouraged me to not confine myself to any situation. At Smith, we are consistently asked to stretch ourselves. Interestingly, stretching is something which was normal to me well before Smith, thanks to my parents.

What is your favorite movie about business? Moneyball: As I mentioned earlier, I previously was a business intelligence consultant, and I’m trained to believe in what the data tells us. I remember watching this movie before ‘data’ became such a big buzzword, and I was simply mind-blown at how Billy Beane went about beating all the odds against him. The biggest lesson I gained from it is to be objective, patient, and believe in any approach you take in a business. It might not always work out, but this approach gives you the best shot at success.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? IMBAA – International MBA Association. I find this funny since IMBAA is a very common gaming term to describe an extraordinary situation within a game. Having been a hardcore gamer as an undergrad, this cracks me up every single time.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…trying my hand at professional cricket or badminton.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I do not think I can put a dollar value to two years of rich experience. It is simply invaluable and it is certainly worth more than what I’ve paid for it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Live in the Netherlands
  2. Attend an India vs. Pakistan world cup cricket match 

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone they always could count on.

Hobbies? Skiing, cricket, badminton, Bollywood dancing, Catan.

What made Vigneshwaran such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Vignesh brings passion and enthusiasm to Maryland Smith every day and the Smith community is lucky to have him as one of our own. Vignesh moved to the United States from India and immediately began bringing both domestic and international students together. Vignesh was elected by classmates as MBA Association’s Vice President of International Student Affairs. In this role, he ensures international student voices are represented and works to build community between all MBA students.

Vignesh has shown he cares greatly for his classmates and has planned many events and activities to deepen the bonds between the cohorts. He consistently looks for ways to help classmates socially, academically and with their career search. For example, Vignesh has held interview prep sessions for first- and second-year students, and he worked closely with the Office of Career Services to set up international alumni webinars for current international students to connect with alumni and learn from their experiences. In addition, Vignesh loves to dance and has taught both Indian and non-Indian students choreographed dances for Smith’s famous Diwali Night. Reflecting his academic excellence, he was selected in his second year to be the TA for Data Driven Decision Making – one of Smith’s most quantitative and challenging core classes for first-year students. Vignesh subsequently was lauded by the students for breaking down complicated problems and being key to their success in the course. Vignesh furthermore capitalized on his Operations and Data Analytics focus in his MBA studies to launch the next chapter of his career. He interned with Citi as a Risk Management Intern where he streamlined and integrated the FinTech governance process into a project management tool and optimized the existing governance process by leveraging historic data. He will continue his work when he joins Citi full-time after graduation.”

Wendy W. Moe

Associate Dean of Master’s Programs

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

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