On Being A GEM, 3-Year Journey To XLRI, And Yoda

‘Do… or do not. There is no try.’ These are Yoda’s words of wisdom ingrained in the brain of every MBA aspirant. And I was no exception! But Yoda smacked me across the face with failure time and again. For me, the 3-year journey to XLRI was more an experience than an achievement.

When I took my CAT examination in 2015, I had little idea of the process that followed. I was exhilarated to find that I had scored 99.2 percentile. One month from the day of results, I went to bed dejected because I had just one call from one of the old IIMs. Yoda appeared in my dream that night and uttered these words of wisdom – “Son, You are a GEM”. I woke up and told my phone “OK Google. What is bad about being a GEM?”. “You shall not pass”, came the reply.

And so, I packed my bags from college and walked into the corporate world in search of success. One year passed! Life was all good! The second time around, I took these exams with little interest. A visibly angry Yoda materialized in front of me, smacked me hard across my face and preached his new words of wisdom – ‘Just do it’. I promised myself that I would join a reputed b-school the next year.

After months of preparation, I registered for all examinations. My CAT score reduced compared to my previous efforts and I ended up with the same number of interview calls as before. Yoda was right about GEMs. To make things a bit more interesting, my body decided to fall sick on the day of XAT exam. Surviving a sneezing fit for 15 minutes proved harder than the Decision Making section of the exam. I gave up hope.

The results finally arrived and I had cleared the sectional cut off by 0.3 percentile and eventually got an interview call. I looked up at Yoda to find a smug smile across his face. He took some sadistic pleasure in putting me through GD’s and see me sweat.

For the umpteenth time, I lied to my manager that I had fallen sick with a mysterious medical condition and caught my train to Bangalore. Sitting in a GD being countered by 6 people at the same time, I looked up at Yoda who was rolling on the floor laughing. Next, I survived my interview which lasted barely 9 minutes.

I took a cab back to my friend’s place. By the time I reached my destination, I had convinced myself of another year of waiting before I made it to a B-School. I went back to work after recovering from the “mysterious disease”. 2 months later, I received a conversion letter from XLRI. I had one single question in my mind. I asked Yoda “What made you think I deserve this?” Yoda replied “Because you worked hard”. I smirked and asked him “Me? After all this time?”. He replied “Always”.


Raghunathan S

XLRI (2018 - 2020), Comfortable with awkward silences