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Risk Consultant Goes to HEC Paris MBA with Low Work Experience

Updated: May 13

What could be more perfect than taking a romantic walk on the charming streets of Paris, surrounded by its lively lifestyle, iconic buildings, and rich history? Perhaps, finding a spot at HEC Paris MBA, where one can immerse themselves in the best of business, fashion, architecture, and culture.

HEC Paris is one of Europe's leading business schools, renowned for its rigorous academic programs, strong global connections, and influential alumni network. Established in 1881, HEC Paris has a long-standing tradition of excellence in business education and research. The HEC Incubator, located at Station F, the world's largest startup campus in Paris, supports students and graduates in turning their innovative ideas into business ventures. Some of the notable alumni include prominent business leaders, politicians, and academics, such as Jean-Paul Agon (CEO of L'Oréal), François-Henri Pinault (CEO of Kering), and Henri de Castries (former CEO of AXA). HEC Paris secured the top #1 position in the Financial Times European Business Schools Ranking 2022 and has consistently ranked among the top schools across Europe.

Kashish Minocha's journey to this university is nothing short of remarkable, displaying a story of perseverance, hard work, and strategic planning. By taking calculated and strategic steps, she overcame obstacles and challenges that came her way and ultimately earned a spot in this prestigious institution.

We spoke with Kashish to learn more about her journey through the application process. Read her story below.

Global MBA with Low Work Experience: Introduction & Why MBA?

After completing my education at Sri Venkateshwara College, Delhi University, I joined KPMG where I specialized in financial risk management. During my tenure, I gained expertise in investigating financial crimes and led multiple projects. Working in the niche field of forensic science, I enjoyed the learning opportunities that came with it. However, I realized that my current field was not aligned with my long-term goals.

I decided to pursue an MBA to differentiate myself from my peers and to fully engage with my cohort. I began my journey almost two years before the MBA program start date by seeking a profile evaluation to gain insights into my background. However, I was still left with a question: "How can I make my profile stand out?" I worked strategically in my company to gain exposure and experience for three years before deciding to apply to MBA programs. I was clear on one thing: I wanted to attend a university that aligned with my long-term and short-term goals. As a result, I spent a significant amount of time researching and talking to people before applying.


GMAT Preparation: Struggles, Overcoming Them & Advice

I attempted the GMAT twice. The first time was during my undergraduate studies, but I did not prepare well enough due to other commitments. However, this experience helped me understand the importance of a structured preparation plan. For my second attempt, I followed a well-planned strategy and used study materials provided by a coaching institute. I also took a one-and-a-half-month break from work to focus on my studies and eventually scored 720.

One important tip I would like to share with students is to not rush into the examination. Take time to understand the process and what it takes to get a good score. Do not compare it with any other standardized test, as the GMAT requires a different approach and mindset. You may need to unlearn some things and relearn new strategies to ace the GMAT.

School Selection Process

During my school selection process, the average GMAT score at different schools acted as an important factor. Although not discouraged from applying to any school, I was also rational in assessing my chances. I knew that having just 3 years of experience at the time of application might also be a disadvantage to some top schools, thus I made practical choices. I believe it is essential to analyze each component of the application and evaluate your competitiveness realistically.

I considered several criteria while selecting a business school program. In addition to the standard factors, such as academic reputation and curriculum, I also factored in the university culture, the vibe of current students and faculty, collaboration, and community. Additionally, I preferred programs that were not one year or 10 months and offered diversity and international experiences. Therefore, I deliberately chose business schools in Europe and the USA.

Application Building Process

I approached the application-building process in two parts. Firstly, I completed the exam, and then I contacted Piyush to start the application-building process. Prior to choosing Management Master, I had spoken to several consultants, but I chose Piyush for his clear thinking and the positive vibes I felt during our initial call. With around 5 months left before R1, I decided that the 8-Step Process was the best fit for me.

I was particularly excited about the introspective workshops that focused on personal and professional journeys and story-building. The profile-building workshop sessions were especially helpful in recalling stories from my past that could be woven into the essay. As I had sufficient time before the deadline, I was able to work effectively with Piyush without much strain or stress.

When I first started writing my essays, I struggled to meet the word count requirements. Fortunately, Piyush stepped in and helped me craft a compelling story that incorporated my background, career goals, and how I would fit into the university. As I developed a pool of essays, I learned how to tailor each one to the specific question being asked.

My advice to anyone starting their essays is to take some time for introspection. I suggest that candidates speak with friends or mentors and reflect on every significant moment in their life to add depth and value to their stories.

During my essay writing, I made sure to focus on how I demonstrated leadership skills despite having limited experience. I believe that there are several ways to showcase leadership skills, and my approach was to take every opportunity to engage in leadership activities within my company. Although I did not have any formal certification, I considered every contribution to a project, no matter how small, as an act of leadership. For example, you could mention how you organized an after-work dance club for your colleagues to showcase your initiative and leadership abilities outside of work. My point is that even if one is not in a managerial position, one can still demonstrate leadership skills through personal and professional activities.

A common misconception about the application process is that NGO or social work experience is mandatory. However, this is not the case and lack of such experiences will not significantly impact the chances of the profile.

I was fortunate to receive interview invitations from two universities, HEC Paris and USC Marshall School of Business. However, both interviews turned out to be very different from each other. For the HEC Paris interview, I had to prepare a presentation that I was not aware of beforehand. This made me a bit nervous, but with Piyush's help, I could complete it successfully. Furthermore, the questions asked during the interview were quite specific and challenging, which sometimes caught me off guard.

On the other hand, the interview with Marshall was entirely different from that of HEC Paris. The questions asked were completely unrelated to what I had expected. Therefore, my advice to students would be to prepare well for interviews. They should seek guidance from current students who have gone through the same process, conduct their own research, and practice mock interviews with friends and consultants to be ready for any curveball questions.

The most interesting parts of my application journey were my introspection journey and talking to people, be it alumni and current students. I enjoyed conversing about other people's journeys.

I received admit offers from both HEC Paris and USC Marshall. I finally chose HEC Paris for its cost, duration of the program, and location. I also had clarity on my short-term and long-term goals and factored in how HEC Paris will help me achieve them.

Feedback for Management Masters

I knew early on in my undergraduate studies that I wanted to pursue an MBA. Therefore, I started researching consultants well in advance. I spoke with numerous friends and consultants to compare costs, comfort levels, and success rates. While I did not take the profile evaluation with Management Masters, I chose to work with them. During my initial call, two things stood out to me: the comfort I felt conversing with Piyush and the overall vibe.

I really appreciated the honesty and realistic expectations that were set during the process. The personal investment in each step of the essay-writing process was greatly appreciated, and the extended support made it even more comfortable. It was clear that the process was not just transactional, and there was no limit on the number of calls or hours that I could request. This definitely stood out to me!

Watch The Video Interview

You can also watch the complete video interview below.


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