Like many of you, I too was an Engineer who aspired to study at a premier B-school. My journey towards MBA began in late 2014. While filling my form, I realized that the first question to ask myself to kick-start my journey towards an MBA degree was “what unique experience or quality differentiates me from my competitors?” I am an Electronics engineer who worked in the Finance IT division of Nomura. I handled key responsibilities and lead the project, and this was my differentiating factor or USP, whichever you feel comfortable with.

However, this wasn’t enough for S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR). SPJIMR has a unique admission process. A first stage shortlist completely based on profile and a second stage shortlist based on profile and CAT/XAT/GMAT scores. The profile data includes academics, extra-curricular activities and work experience (if applicable). Further, each candidate is allowed to choose two specializations. SPJIMR’s process ensures that the specialization of management one is shortlisted for depends on the profile. Subsequently, interviews are conducted based on the specialization one is shortlisted for. Thus, this was the biggest hurdle to cross and made the process excitingly challenging for me. After I submitted my profile, I had to wait for almost a month for the shortlists. My good CAT score was sufficient to fetch me a score-based interview call. Clearing this stage called for the first party. I was delighted! I was empowered when I realized that a premier institute like SPJIMR considered my profile good enough to be a potential alumnus of the institution. It was almost like getting a validation for all the years of effort that went behind building my profile.

I had to gear up for the next stage – the interviews! Reiterating on the differentiation, the interview process of SPJIMR was unique – two group interviews (GI-1 and GI-2). That was it – between me and the coveted admission seat at SPJIMR. My interview was scheduled on the 14th of February. Prior to GI-1, we had to write an essay and answer a few personality related questions in a written ability test (WAT) round. The focus on the personality of a candidate during the admission process is another unique aspect about SPJIMR. The basic premise of SPJIMR is to mould a candidate into a responsible and humble manager, without modifying inherent traits. The next stage was GI-1, where a panel of three professors interviewed me along with four other prospective students. It was a general interview and the questions for me were around my profile and specifically my work experience. Post GI-1 was the wait, the wait to know if I was among the selected few to appear for GI-2. This wasn’t really all that long but the anxiety makes it seem longer, doesn’t it? Clearing GI-1 called for another small celebration. But there was no time – 30 minutes and I was back outside another conference room, waiting for GI-2 to begin. GI-2 was almost an HR interview. It was designed to be conversational so that the interview panel can analyse a candidate’s true personality and thought process. At this stage, questions don’t revolve around “Why MBA?” anymore.

The results were declared in mid-March, well before any other premium B-school. I was ecstatic on being selected. I was also able to serve the three months of notice period on resignation from Nomura. What I loved most about the admission process was that I was judged based on my capabilities and strengths, and not just on academics. I was sure that SPJIMR was the best place for my holistic growth and so far I have not been proven wrong. So have you started your journey yet?

Vivek Dharmarajan

PGDM 2015-17 | Information Management | S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research