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ISRO Rocket Scientist Lands into Kellogg MBA! Find out How?

ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation, represents a beacon of excitement and innovation for various reasons. First, it represents the pinnacle of scientific and technological advancement, continuously pushing the boundaries of space exploration and satellite technology. Second, it provides young scientists the opportunity to contribute to groundbreaking missions such as satellite launches, lunar explorations, and interplanetary ventures and fosters an environment full of innovation and discovery. Furthermore, ISRO's collaborative ethos brings together some of the brightest minds in the field, providing a dynamic platform for interdisciplinary research and problem-solving.

Chanaksha Gorentla, an ex-ISRO scientist, embarked on an exhilarating journey marked by the anticipation of exploring new horizons and embracing fresh challenges. Transitioning from an engineering role at ISRO to pursuing an MBA at Kellogg represents not just a career shift, but a transformative leap towards honing leadership skills, fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration and gaining a comprehensive understanding of global business dynamics.

Chanaksha's move to the Kellogg MBA came from a desire to delve deeper into the realm of impactful leadership. The prospect of immersing oneself in Kellogg's renowned collaborative culture, learning from world-class faculty, and engaging in experiential learning opportunities, ignited a sense of excitement and possibility. Furthermore, expanding his professional network, exploring diverse career paths, and ultimately shaping his trajectory toward influential leadership roles in the business world added an extra layer of excitement to his transformative journey.

Chanaksha shared his inspiring MBA journey in an interview with Piyush Ranjan, chief consultant at Management Masters. Dive into his captivating story below.

rocket scientist studying

ISRO Scientist to Kellogg MBA: Introduction & Why MBA?

Embarking on a journey from the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology to a role as a scientist at ISRO, I spent seven captivating years exploring the cosmos through rocket science. Each day brought new challenges and the thrill of venturing into the unknown.

My entire background revolves around aerospace, with my education at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology and sponsorship by ISRO shaping my journey. I immersed myself in rocket science and projects closely aligned with ISRO's mission. Including my college years, my association with ISRO spans over eight years, exposing me to diverse challenges and environments.

However, along the way, I harboured aspirations of entrepreneurship, though my initial attempts post-graduation in 2016 didn't yield the desired results. I experimented with various ventures, however, the part-time nature of these endeavours clashed with my professional obligations, leading me to reassess my career trajectory.

Despite performing well in my job over the next four years, I realized that achieving a leadership position would require much more time due to organizational structures. Feeling the urge to take on greater responsibility and accelerate my career growth, I sought an MBA to transition into a decision-making role where I could take ownership of my actions. This desire for career advancement and increased autonomy drove me to pursue an MBA, marking a significant shift in my career path. Before reaching out to Management Masters for assistance with my application, I navigated a unique journey filled with challenges and realizations.

As Kellogg emerged on the horizon, I sensed an opportunity to explore uncharted territories in a different realm. It was a pivotal moment, prompting me to seek guidance from Management Masters for my Kellogg application. Since then, my path has been illuminated by countless revelations and transformations. Piyush's invaluable assistance significantly shaped my journey, steering me toward new horizons and opportunities awaiting exploration.

Application Journey

At the outset, before seeking assistance from  Management Masters, I had already applied to several schools in round 1 but hadn't been able to receive an admission call from my top choice schools. While I was rejected without interviews by many schools, I also received a few interview invites, but I was unable to convert them. My first interaction with Management Masters happened when I signed up for their mock interview preparation service for Darden. Unfortunately, I received a rejection from Darden as well.

However, I had a highly positive experience with the Management Masters team, which led me to sign up for their Essay Review package for my Kellogg application. I had a fair idea of the rest of the application process and wanted help only with my essays.  

Working on the essay reviews, I realized I had a misconception about essay writing in my initial applications. I mistakenly believed it was about showcasing an extensive vocabulary and packing essays with elaborate language. However, I quickly realized that the essence lay in structuring essays effectively and conveying key points succinctly. The CARL format employed by Piyush proved instrumental, ensuring my essays were both structured and to the point—a unique quality lacking in my previous consultant's guidance. Moreover, Piyush's honest and sometimes brutal feedback and extensive experience proved invaluable in refining my essays. 

One of the most challenging aspects for me was articulating my work experiences in a manner relatable to individuals from different backgrounds. While my previous essays delved into technical details familiar only to aerospace professionals, Piyush helped me craft essays with a broader appeal, making them accessible and understandable to readers from any background. This shift in approach was transformative, ensuring my essays resonated with a wider audience and effectively communicated my unique experiences and aspirations.

After my application, I learned two key lessons. Firstly, the importance of condensing my story into a concise format. Secondly, mastering the art of brevity, both in storytelling and responding to interview questions. This requires consistent practice.

When asked "Why MBA?" for instance, your response should be impactful and immediate. Interviews, like those at Kellogg, often involve indirect questions that require nuanced answers. For example, when asked about leadership, it's not about regurgitating textbook definitions. Instead, it's about weaving your experiences into your response, highlighting your actions and accomplishments. Beyond that, any perceived shortcomings, whether it is test scores or GPA, can often be mitigated by having a clear vision of your goals and dreams. A strong story and clarity of purpose can be key factors in the admissions process for any school.

Here's a myth-buster for everyone: having a prestigious brand on your CV or resume won't guarantee acceptance into a top B-School. I can attest to this personally, as I was rejected by most B-Schools despite my credentials.

Another issue that I have seen students face is over-prioritizing the standardized examinations. While having a high GMAT or GRE score is important, it's not the sole determinant for admission, especially given the fierce competition, particularly from India. Even with a stellar score like 780, your chances diminish if your narrative falls short. Conversely, a lower score won't necessarily disqualify you if your story is compelling. Demonstrating leadership skills is paramount, along with showcasing a well-rounded profile that includes extracurricular activities to illustrate organizational and leadership capabilities.

Advice for Future Aspirants

I found the Essay Review service to be the best standalone service for me. Writing those personal essays was like creating my autobiography, reflecting on my journey from childhood to the present which offered a unique opportunity to understand my personal growth amidst various circumstances and experiences. This required diligent effort.

One of the most significant challenges I faced in this process was distilling complex technical concepts into accessible language. Whether discussing cryogenics or rocket science, simplifying my narrative without losing its essence was paramount. I learned the importance of communicating effectively to diverse audiences, especially those outside my field, a lesson applicable to all applicants striving to convey their experiences and aspirations.

Reflecting on this journey, my advice to others embarking on the MBA application process is multifaceted. While achieving a strong GMAT or GRE score is crucial, it's equally important to enhance your profile with relevant experiences and courses aligned with your career goals.

In closing, I'd like to express my gratitude to Management Masters and Piyush for their invaluable support throughout this journey. Their guidance and encouragement were instrumental in navigating the complexities of the application process. To future applicants, I echo the sentiment of embracing challenges with resilience and seeking support when needed, for it is through these experiences that we grow and thrive.

Watch The Video Interview

You can also watch the complete video interview below



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