Successfully Matching Values With Kellogg Business School
Kellogg Business School is renowned globally as one of the Magnificent Seven business schools in the US, and its MBA program is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world. Today however we are hearing from a current student at the school’s MMM program, which combines the traditional MBA with elements of design and innovation. Sounds interesting already? Well just wait till you hear from a student who has worked in fields ranging from aerospace engineering, to non-profit social development, to product management! Here is the story of Eswar Nalamaru, in his own words.
I started my career at an aerospace company in Pune called Eaton after completing my engineering from IIT BHU in 2015. The work at the company was great, and I was on a rotational program where I could work on new products and had opportunities to work with senior management. Yet despite these positives, I felt I was not able to see the immediate impact of my work. That was the biggest reason I took the leap and made a move to the social sector, where I could see the direct impact of what I do every single day. At SPARC, I had the opportunity to work with a Member of Parliament to develop his constituency for the next two and a half years before then moving to Everest to lead new product launches at the firm.
Right from the time I was at Eaton, I clearly remember watching a video of a lecture from Harvard Business School and since then was fascinated by the idea of becoming a professor at a top business school. When I did a little research about this, I found out I could do this by studying at a business school, going on to work in the industry and then come back as a faculty member years later. This prospect fascinated me and always kept me in touch with the idea of doing an MBA.
When I moved to the social sector however, things did change quite a lot. Funnily enough, it was by working in this sector and using my engineering skills to create an impact that I found my interest in engineering once again. After a couple of years in this sector, I transitioned back to a more core engineering role with renewed interest. Having always had the idea of doing an MBA in my mind, I felt it was the right time to take that step, as it would help me ed-tech or agri-business firm, which is something I always wanted.
I had first attempted the GMAT in 2017 without much preparation and managed to score a 700. In 2019, when I was more focused on applying to business schools, I gave the test again and was able to improve my score to 740. One key tip I would give working professionals who are giving the GMAT is to take a break from work for at least 4-5 days before GMAT. I used to always have some work commitments and distractions and taking that time away from my phone and emails gave me a big boost of focus and enhanced my final preparation. My accuracy levels went up, and I was able to get better scores in my mocks, and eventually the actual exam too.
Kellogg’s MMM program is rather unique as it offers students both an MBA from Kellogg and an M.S. in Design Innovation from the Segal Design Institute. The application requires one extra essay as compared to the regular MBA application. What I noticed about the MMM program as I went through the student profiles, was that all of them came from a background which involved a level of customer interaction, be it consulting, finance and other fields, which was something I resonated with given my own experiences. The MMM can be thought of as a larger sphere within which the MBA fits in, with one additional class every semester on concepts such as design, operations, analytics and so on. The biggest emphasis is on design, be it for a business model or a product!
The school also has a design lab where students can design and model actual products with their own hands, speak to potential customers, and work with companies on live business cases and challenges. One of the key underlying messages of the program is that innovation by itself is not important, but rather it is innovation combined with relevance that the world needs today.
Kellogg’s application essays focus a lot of values, both of applicant’s and if they align with those of the school. In that regard, I was fortunate to have a few specific examples and stories from my life which I could draw from for all my essays. What it mainly came down to was the realization that I care deeply for the people around me and I love working with and for people. Since this was very similar to the school’s own values, I felt I could put my experiences into the applications which made it much easier for me. Of all the schools, it was the one application where I felt was the most appropriate for me even before I got my admit.
For my applications, I was clear from the start I needed to work with a consultant since I needed someone to push me for timelines and help me structure my thoughts. In this regard, working with Management Masters played a big role in helping me submit the best possible applications to the schools.
People who have the focus and drive to keep themselves consistent and can meet timelines can probably get through the application process without the help of a consultant. I also feel people who do complete applications by themselves successfully typically have some contacts who have been to business schools in the past, who they can call upon for advice and guidance. That being said from what I know, close to 90% of the successful applicants to Kellogg from India this year worked with consultants.
Starting my MBA in the COVID-19 world has been a unique experience. I was initially quite apprehensive as anyone would imagine, but after attending a few introductory classes by Kellogg, I was much more confident about the online classes. The school leveraged the best technology possible to ensure interactive and dynamic classes. That being said, there are still a few shortcomings, the primary one being the lesser ability to network and build social connections. Hopefully, I will be able to get onto campus soon to meet my peers and get to know them better! At the end of the day these are difficult times, and it is up to us to have the resilience to make the best of the opportunities we have!
I am often asked how someone would know if Kellogg is the right school for them. While every school has many great attributes, Kellogg focuses a lot of team values and collaboration. So, if that philosophy is fundamental to who you are and the type of environment where you thrive, then it might just be the right fit for you!