The MBA program at INSEAD has once again ranked #1 in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking this year, after 2016 and 2017 successively. In 1999, it became the first business school to have two full-fledged campuses with permanent faculty - one in Europe, the other in Asia.
We caught up with Jay Bhatnagar, an INSEAD alumnus (Class of 2019), who’s currently working at The Boston Consulting Group as a Consultant to know more about his MBA journey. Learn more about his journey to and after INSEAD!
Let me walk you through my journey that eventually helped me get an admit to one of the best B-Schools in Europe!
My career kickstarted in the recruitment consulting function in India. Shortly thereafter, I moved to Singapore where I led the recruitment consulting practice in the healthcare industry! Roughly after a year, I was in Hong Kong as an Associate Director, at a listed American human capital consulting firm, Hudson, leading a team of about 10. My role was along the lines of working with CFOs for effective workforce planning and devising talent advisory strategies in the finance industry.
As my career progressed, I wished to get involved across diverse functions within the consulting space, and a career in management consulting felt like the next best step for me. This aspect of ‘career transition’ was one of my primary drivers motivating me for an MBA, and thus eventually I started thinking of applying to B-Schools.
One of the most challenging aspects for me was the GMAT preparation. I was in a full-time job and I knew that I had to do justice to my test preparation as well. But I’d say that reminding myself of my career goals and aspirations kept me motivated and disciplined throughout. I opted for a self-study mode of prep, given I had done thorough research about the materials I’d need since there are so many resources out there and anyone can easily get overwhelmed. Thus, I usually recommend aspirants to stick to the right resources and then decide what works for them and how they want to go about the test prep (self-study vs coaching).
To sum up my GMAT journey, it all boiled down to time management, discipline, and the strategy I chose to adopt!
The next critical decision I needed to prepare for was identifying my target B-Schools to apply to. With the rate of acceptance metric in mind, here’s how I went about arriving at the right B-School for me: asking myself questions broadly focused on what I wanted out of my MBA?
My post-MBA career choice
My location preferences since this heavily decided where my job prospects would be
The duration of the MBA program
Firstly, given that I was looking for a post-MBA career in consulting, INSEAD of course had fit well in my list of target schools, since MBBs typically hire intensively from here. Secondly, having lived in South-East Asia for a while, and with my under-graduation from the States, I preferred to stay in Asia. Coming to a 24-month vs 12-month MBA program, I opted for a one year program, as I was in the stage of my career where I didn’t wish to stay out of the job market for too long. Once I had bucketed my questions to these 3, INSEAD ticked all boxes and I ended up applying just there.
Though I received an admit from INSEAD, while reflecting upon my past decisions, I feel having a back-up plan would’ve been a less risky option, and thus I’d recommend anyone to have multiple choices and place a safe bet as well, while gunning for their dream schools!
The MBA application process was indeed exciting, and at the same time comprehensive. I’d break down the entire process into 3 broad sections.
First, aspirants need to be self-aware. Since it is your journey you’re writing about, you get to decide which parts need to be highlighted to the admissions committee. To ensure that all relevant experiences are narrated, you must introspect about what matters to you, what your strengths are, and what you stand for! Penning all of this down roughly produces enough content to proceed to the next step, which is drafting it in the ‘essay’ form.
There are word constraints, and thus you need to make your words count! Another significant point that people often miss out on is the fact that they have 2 avenues to talk about their experiences - CV and Essays. With not many overlaps, if you can exhaust your experiences, within both of these, it’ll be the best thing to do!
To truly know the B-school you aspire to get into and showcase your efforts to gather the same, reaching out to Alumni will help. Evaluation goes both ways, right? It’s not just the schools evaluating you, but vice-versa. At this point, you’ll also have stronger answers to ‘Why I’d be the right fit for school X?’, and can highlight your applicant-school fit.
My 10 months at the INSEAD campus were filled with enriching experiences, and only left me wishing that it could have lasted longer. Given that the 10-month program is condensed with numerous activities going on, it mattered as to how effectively I spent my time. Sports had always taught me that one should always be willing to learn and compete with people better than oneself. With this mindset, being around diverse and high achieving class of peers, my goal was to learn from them, and upskill myself.
All the best!
You can watch Jay's complete video interview below.