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MBA After Consulting - From Chennai to McKinsey to INSEAD MBA

At McKinsey, consulting isn't just a job; it's a dynamic, transformative experience. Working here means being part of a team that thrives on solving complex problems and driving meaningful change for clients across industries and continents. With a relentless focus on innovation, collaboration, and impact, McKinsey consultants tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges, helping organizations navigate uncertainty, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve sustainable growth. It's a journey of continuous learning, growth, and unparalleled impact, where every day brings new opportunities to make a difference.

Transitioning from McKinsey to INSEAD marks a pivotal moment in anyone’s career journey. Such is the inspiring story of Vanshika, one of our successful candidates. From collaborating with top talent and tackling diverse challenges across industries and geographies at McKinsey, she is already making waves in the business world.

In our dialogue, she offered valuable insights into her application journey, career progression, application strategies, and guidance for aspiring candidates. Explore her narrative below.

MBA After Consulting: Professional Background and Why MBA?

What a journey it's been! Growing up in Chennai, landing an internship at Google, and then diving into the world of consulting with McKinsey—it's been a rollercoaster of learning and growth. Initially, I was all about public policy and changing lives, but my experiences at Google and McKinsey broadened my perspectives. I realized I could still make a difference within big organizations that share my values.

Starting as a research analyst and then climbing the ranks to become an expert consultant in the people practice was a whirlwind. Travelling across Asia, from Vietnam to Thailand to Singapore and Bombay, exposed me to diverse cultures and business landscapes. It was incredibly eye-opening and rewarding.

While consulting feels like my natural fit, lately, I've been craving a change of scenery. Europe and the Middle East have captured my interest as intriguing options. Now, I'm at a crossroads, figuring out what's next. Pursuing an MBA feels like the right move—it's a chance to further develop my skills, explore new opportunities, and carve out a path where I can continue making an impact, both professionally and personally.

The MBA program offers a direct gateway to those regions, which is really appealing. Consulting has been my bread and butter, something I've genuinely enjoyed and excelled at. Returning to it would be fantastic. However, I'm also open to the idea of taking a detour through the MBA route, picking up some new skills, and then diving into consulting in Europe and the Middle East. It's all about seizing the opportunities that come my way and making the most of them.

Choosing INSEAD: The Right Fit for My Global MBA Journey

I got instantly connected to INSEAD. It's like everything fell into place naturally. Initially, I admit, my approach to choosing MBA programs was pretty broad—aiming for the top ten without much research beyond rankings. But as I delved deeper into the process, I realized the importance of finding the right fit.

Through conversations, research, interviews, and meeting alumni and current students, INSEAD stood out to me. There was a genuine connection that went beyond just academic considerations. Maybe it's because of my sister's background in France and my exposure to French culture, but INSEAD felt like a place where I could truly see myself.

Personal connections aside, INSEAD's outcomes aligned perfectly with what I was looking for. A one-year program with excellent ROI, nestled in Fontainebleau's charming setting, is an opportunity I couldn't pass up. The diversity of experiences and perspectives at INSEAD resonated with me, reflecting the varied experiences I've had and the desire to continue embracing diversity in my education and beyond.

I'm thrilled at the opportunity to learn and build a network in both Europe and Asia. I strongly believe that Asia is where the future lies. However, I've noticed that some standalone Asian universities don't rank as highly as others. That's why I was particularly drawn to the top five MBA programs that offer direct access to Asia. These programs not only provide top-tier education but also invaluable connections and opportunities in the dynamic Asian market.

So, while there are logical reasons like diversity, outcomes, professors, and employment opportunities, there's also this deeper, personal connection that drew me to INSEAD. It just feels right, and I'm excited for the journey ahead.

INSEAD Preparation Tips

With INSEAD, what struck me the most was the entire application process, particularly the opportunity to engage with alumni during the interview stage. But even before that, INSEAD encourages applicants to start an application, almost like a mock exercise, regardless of whether you're planning to apply this year or not. It's an introspective journey akin to therapy, forcing you to reflect on your achievements, failures, strengths, weaknesses, and your unique perspectives on leadership and diversity. Writing the 7 or 8 essays required for the application was surprisingly enjoyable for me—I found immense satisfaction in articulating my thoughts and experiences.

However, the highlight of the application process for me was undoubtedly the conversations I had with my interviewers. In fact, I even had the pleasure of meeting one of them in person after I received my acceptance letter. Their encouragement and insights were invaluable, and meeting two accomplished individuals who genuinely cared about my journey was a truly enriching experience.

A word of advice for future MBA aspirants: Time, effort, and understanding of the process are the key ingredients to MBA success. It's all about finding the right balance and leveraging the resources and support available to you. Whether it's investing in a consultant, conducting thorough research, or seeking guidance from those who have been through the process, take the time to form your own perspective and approach. After all, you wouldn't want to look back and regret not giving it your best shot.

MBA Application Process

When it comes to applying to MBA programs, trust your instincts. There will be a few universities that just click with you, and it's important to really dive into what they're all about. For me, this realization hit hard after my Columbia interview. I quickly realized that New York wasn't where I wanted to be, and that lack of passion probably showed in my interview. Lesson learned: passion is key.

So, my number one tip is to follow your gut and immerse yourself in the culture of the universities you're interested in. Don't just skim through their websites—attend events, talk to current students and alumni, and really get to know what makes each university unique. It'll make a world of difference in your application essays and interviews.

Now, specifically for INSEAD, showcasing diversity and a global mindset is crucial. It's not just about how many countries you've travelled to; it's about embracing diverse experiences and perspectives in all aspects of life. Whether it's working with people from different backgrounds, volunteering across borders, or navigating cultural differences, these are the things that really matter. INSEAD values individuals who can bring this multifaceted perspective to the table, and it's something they actively look for in applicants.

So, as you're crafting your application, think about the different dimensions of diversity in your life. Whether it's your background, your work experiences, or your interactions with people from different parts of the world, these are the things that will set you apart. And remember, INSEAD's motto “Business school for all,” says: they're looking for individuals who can thrive in a global context, and showcasing that in your application is key.

There's this misconception that you need to be a jack-of-all-trades, a model candidate with a laundry list of extracurriculars and achievements to impress MBA admissions committees. But that's simply not true. What really matters is what you've learned from your experiences and how you can articulate those learnings effectively. It's less about checking off boxes and more about showcasing your unique journey and the insights you've gained along the way. So, whether you haven't volunteered, don't have a sport, or aren't a virtuoso in music, don't sweat it. Your path is yours, and there's value in every experience you've had.

Tackling MBA Application Apprehensions

I used to dwell a lot on the perceived shortcomings in my profile. I'd worry about not having hobbies outside of work, especially since my career demanded so much of my time for four years straight. Then there was my GMAT score—I felt like my 730 wasn't the best, especially paired with a 49 in quant, hovering on that borderline of being dismissed as non-quantitative due to my art background. And let's not forget about my undergraduate alma mater, a local community college in Chennai that doesn't exactly top any lists.

These were the things that constantly nagged at me, making me overanalyze my perceived inadequacies. But you know what? It's okay. Everyone's journey is unique, with its own highs and lows. What really matters is how you highlight those unique experiences and lessons learned, and how you're able to candidly discuss your setbacks and failures with the same level of confidence. At the end of the day, it's about embracing your story and owning it, flaws and all.

GMAT journey

For me personally, achieving a strong GMAT score felt quite important. However, I recognize that the significance of this exam varies depending on individual personality and abilities. Take my own journey, for example- I initially scored a 630 on the GMAT, prompting me to make a strategic decision about whether to retake it. I opted to give it another shot in October, even if it meant missing a round of applications. It was a calculated risk, weighing the potential benefits of a higher score against the timing of my applications.

Ultimately, the GMAT is just one piece of the puzzle, and its importance should be considered in the context of your overall profile. For me, coming from an arts background with limited quantitative experience, achieving a stronger score in the quant section was crucial to demonstrating my ability in that area. This decision was aligned with my desire to strengthen specific aspects of my profile, rather than fixating solely on the GMAT score itself.

In evaluating your GMAT score, it's essential to consider how it complements the other components of your profile. Rather than becoming consumed by achieving a perfect score, focus on leveraging it as a tool to enhance your overall candidacy. It's about striking a balance and making strategic choices that align with your individual goals and strengths.

Mastering Mock Interviews with Management Masters

Talking about the interview process—it's a whole different ball game. You're sitting at home, faceless, trying to weave together your story. I've always been more comfortable with writing, crafting my thoughts into words, and sending them off. But when it came to interviews, I was petrified. The idea of facing people who had been to the university and were successful, it was daunting. I had no idea what to expect.

INSEAD has alumni interviews, so you're sitting across from someone who's been in your shoes, and who knows the ropes. As much as I could talk to senior folks at McKinsey about INSEAD, their interviews were a decade ago. And generic interview guides? They just wouldn't cut it.

I've been following Piyush on LinkedIn for a while, seeing some success stories, and I was eager to speak to someone who had been there, and done that. Management Masters' mock interview services offered that opportunity.

I had an initial mock with Piyush, which gave me some baseline preparation, and then I had my second mock interview with a current student who had recently gone through the interviews. Their insights added a whole new layer to my preparation, and I truly believe it made a difference. It turned those interviews from nerve-wracking experiences to enjoyable conversations. I needed insights tailored specifically to INSEAD, and that's exactly what I got. And when I got in, I knew that my preparation was key.

Watch The Video Interview

You can also watch the complete video interview below.


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