In our special series, we endeavour to bring together experiences of students belonging to diverse academic backgrounds and how they made it to the top schools of the country, especially when the MBA scenario is highly dominated by engineers. This series is an attempt not only towards highlighting success stories but also to cement the fact that there are many roads to clinch a seat at the premier schools of the country.
As a part of the series, we introduce Anuja Rege, a chartered accountant currently pursuing PGDM (2015-2017) at IIM Lucknow.
Tell us about your background.
I am a BCom. Graduate from HR College, Mumbai. I completed my articleship of 3 years in EY, then continued to work there for 21 months.
When and why did you think of changing directions to pursue an MBA?
I was doing audit work for about 5 years. During the course, I learned about several businesses, recommended several strategic changes that benefited clients, some of them listed and MNCs. Then I began to realize that an MBA will provide me with a global perspective, help me see from the other side of the table i.e. understand doing business, making strategic choices and not merely compliances/ after effects of decisions. Also, an MBA would give me a role to play in devising strategy of a company, which will help me use my prowess to the fullest.
It’s usually said that it is difficult for non-engineers to handle CAT. Your take on it and how did you prepare for it? (Basic timeline and topics covered)
I joined a coaching center in June for Nov CAT. I attended weekend classes but was unable to study much as I was still working. I ensured that I revised what was taught and paid special emphasis on Quant, as CPT (right after standard XII) was when I had done that much of Math, barring some statistics and other basics during BCom. I also took a 1.5-month leave from EY in October to study.
I was quite regular and planned how to cover all books. Had a good understanding of verbal, so focused more on the other 3 sections. Daily, did 2 of the 4 (DI logic, verbal etc.) in order to maintain balance and not get bored, especially since almost 2 years had passed since I had last studied (CA Finals in May 2013).
Your take on the rigor of MBA life and how has it been so far for you?
I found the initial months at IIM Lucknow quite rigorous.
I had an advantage in some subjects (Term I and Term II) as I had already covered the basics in my commerce degree. The rigor is good as it taught me how to manage my time and resources better. Also, hectic audit work timings had already taught me to stay up late and manage work within deadlines, so work-ex aided the adaptation process.
Talk about your summer internship and how being a CA helped you in it?
I did my summers at McKinsey. I worked as a part of their own initiative of developing a benchmarking tool for hospitals across Asia. The work required extensive excel analytics, in which my work done during CA helped as I already had the basic skills. A general understanding of sectors already acquired during CA helped as well. I was also able to use my basic understanding of laws.
Any final word of advice to people trying to jump-shift from CA to MBA?
If you realize that it’s your calling, go for it. Life at an MBA school is very different and will definitely broaden your perspective of things, help you understand several aspects of business much differently. Hard work and patience already learned while studying for CA exams makes it relatively easier for you to cope with the B-School rigor.
About the Author:
Priyanka is a second-year MBA student at Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow and is a member of InsideIIM’s second student team. She is also a part of PRiSM, The Marketing Cell at IIM Lucknow.