US is one of the most sought-after locations when it comes to Indian candidates looking for an MBA abroad. However, the high preference for Top US MBA programs also makes the process highly competitive and extremely difficult for Indian candidates.
Many Indian candidates with solid profiles often apply to multiple business schools and get rejected in the process. However, failure is a part of the opaque MBA admissions journey, and those who are able to course-correct while they still have time, are also able to turn the tides when it comes to admissions.
UNC Kenan-Flagler is among the top MBA programs in the US - ranking #19 among the top US business schools in the US News report, and #38 in the world as per the FT Rankings. With a class size of ~300, average work experience of ~6 years, and 34% female candidates, UNC offers a holistic MBA experience!
We caught up with Lalitha Garidi who worked with us to prepare for her mock interviews for UNC KF MBA. Before reaching out to us, Lalitha had already faced rejections from two of her top-choice programs, Darden and Tuck. So when it came to UNC, she wanted to ensure that she wasn't making any more mistakes.
Below is Lalitha's MBA application journey, in her own words.
Could you give us a brief background about yourself? What prompted you to apply for MBA programs?
Hi, I’m Lalitha! I belong to a typical South-Indian small town with a traditional and conservative background where women are designated as housewives and business is the bastion of men. I lost my father while pursuing my bachelor’s, and my mom is a high school dropout. Being the eldest daughter of my family, I was left with no other choice but to come and take responsibility for my father’s business, i.e., a two-wheeler automobile showroom.
I juggled between my education and business for a few years to complete my bachelor’s, then joined the business completely after my undergrad. Operating a firm with an entire workforce and consumer base comprised of men was very challenging initially but I was able to overcome that after a few years by treating them with respect, equity, and in a democratic way. Simultaneously, I was able to achieve great results and improve my business in all terms.
While improving my business, I felt that I was growing at a very slow pace as I didn’t have any prior management knowledge and experience. As the world is progressing rapidly and even the automotive industry is transitioning towards autonomous vehicles, I felt the need of bridging my knowledge gaps and decided to pursue a Master’s in Management abroad so that I would not only get to improve my knowledge but also gain exposure from a global standpoint which would intern help me grow my business further and also transition into the four-wheeler industry.
Why did you decide to apply for MBA instead of MIM programs?
I retook my GRE after failing to get a good score on my first attempt, got a decent score of 332, and started exploring different MIM programs.
During this process, considering my experience and achievements, many of my professors and friends suggested I go for an MBA instead.
I started exploring the same and got to know that I would gain more knowledge with the proper understanding of multiple facets of business functions, and organizational structures and also exposure to multiple industries.
How did you select your schools?
So I changed my path to MBA and shortlisted a couple of schools based on personal fit and also where I could get an opportunity to build my skills, and get exposure in the automobile industry.
Based on my research, I decided to apply to 6 schools - Tuck, Darden, Ross, Tepper, McCombs and UNC Kenan-Flagler.
I applied to Tuck and Darden in the early access rounds, and the rest in Round 1. Initially, I received interview invites from Tuck, Darden, and UNC Kenan-Flagler and was waitlisted at Ross, McCombs, and Tepper without interview invites.
However, I got rejected from both, Tuck and Darden, in the early access round after the interview.
Why did you choose to work with Management Masters? How did you prepare for your interview? How did working with us help you in the process?
UNC was my final resort to jump in and I wanted to convert it to an admit at any cost. I started introspecting on where I went wrong and felt the need for someone who could give me proper feedback.
That’s when I approached Piyush, spoke with him, and liked the way how he analyzed my entire profile and explained to me in a structured manner where I went wrong in the early access rounds and how I could correct them to convert the rest.
I immediately signed up for interview prep. The first mock was a completer disaster for me as I got to know that the structure and relevant stories were missing in my answers.
I also received pinpointed feedback on how to revamp my stories to make a better impact with the proper structure from Piyush, Aniket, and Eswar in my mocks multiple times. All of them were very helpful and were available 24 x 7 to clear my doubts.
Result – I converted Kenan-Flagler to an admit with a 100% scholarship.
Later, I was also able to convert Ross, McCombs, and Tepper with the help of the feedback that I received on my profile from Piyush.
Latest update on the Kenan-Flagler decision –
Received full tuition and fee waiver as a Forte fellow
Selected as a Vetter Dean’s fellow
Received full tuition and fee waiver, a $5000 stipend per academic year, and cover for all the expenses for global immersion electives and exchange programs – Thomas W. Hudson Jr. MBA fellowship
I know that "Thanks" is a pretty small word to express my gratitude, but still, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you so much Piyush, Aniket, and Eswar!
What would you advise candidates applying for MBA programs?
All the very best to all the candidates applying for MBA programs. My only advice to them is to stay focused, don’t lose hope after getting a rejection, be determined and you guys can do it.
You have N number of experiences and stories to share with admissions officers but weigh them accordingly and convey the ones that make a huge impact on your profile.
Piyush Ranjan is the Founder of Management Masters. He has helped multiple candidates get admits from some of the best schools around the world, including the likes of Wharton, Kellogg, London Business School, INSEAD, HEC Paris, Booth, Duke Fuqua, Darden, Haas, Tuck, Cambridge, Cornell, Indian School of Business and others.
If you are looking for help with your applications, connect with us.