I stared at the resignation letter in my hand as I waited to be called into the General Managers cabin. Suddenly, the words on that letter made no sense to me. After all, wasn’t being a Chef the whole point of my journey? I wondered why speciality gourmet layouts, new recipe offerings, food photoshoots and promotions suddenly seemed so lacklustre.
I completed my culinary studies from IHM PUSA, went through rigorous training through the years and won several culinary fests. I even became the much-celebrated student chef of the year 2014, Pan India and ended up working with ITC Hotels, one of the most reputed hospitality brands in the country. With all these achievements up my sleeve, I really seemed to be riding the wave!
A few years later, even though I reached where I wanted to, I always felt that this wasn’t the end-all somehow! Four years into my job, I found myself staring at that piece of paper trying to fathom what I was about to do. At the same time, I also realized that I needed to do what I set out to, even if that meant blowing up the career that I chose and built with all my heart and tenacity.
The task of preparing for GMAT and further MBA Applications seemed daunting. My preparation was one of the most significant parts of my journey. I started from square one with NCERT Textbooks to get my basic concepts right and gradually transitioned to full-fledged online prep modules. I set an intensive study routine that focused on maintaining accuracy, timing and test readiness. Surely, there were days that were encouraging, but then there were also times where I felt stuck. Weekly mock test analysis and mixed sectional tests greatly helped me improve my performance and get over the score plateau.
My MBA Applications were the second half of my preparation which required a lot of focused effort and involved countless brainstorming sessions. Aligning my future goals with my past experiences and collating my learnings over the years were most critical and required deep introspection.
Half a year of tireless preparation, sleepless nights on end and 3 GMAT attempts later, here I was! Waiting to be called into the XLRI interview room. As I joined the interview room, I was greeted by a panel of three professors.
Coming from an unconventional background, I was interviewed on my work experience as a Chef with ITC Hotels. I was quizzed on the current industry trends in the food and hospitality sector. I was asked insightful questions on the scope of the ITC Frozen Food segment and the future of the frozen foods market in the country. There were a set of reflective questions about my most valuable experiences and learnings. There were grilling debates on the skillsets a chef must have along with the rationale as to how those skills prepared me as a potential business leader. The interview was quite a pressure test with a rigmarole of intensive question & answer sessions. Somehow, the beauty of such top B-school interviews is that by the end of the interview, the panel keeps you guessing whether or not you were convincing enough!
Finally On the night of 22nd Feb at 12:00 am, I was stormed with emotions of excitement, hope and gratitude all in a fraction of a second as I read the first sentence, “Congratulations!”, I was ecstatic to be chosen as one amongst the top 120 students across the country by an elite academic institution as XLRI.
When I look back at my journey so far, I believe that my interview preparedness and my spontaneity really worked for me. In most pressure interviews, one often needs to respectfully stick to one’s own stand in front of the panel without getting phased out. Through my journey, if I could share one important takeaway from my story, it would probably be this,
No matter which walk of life you come from, when a desire becomes a calling, one should go for it! And as they say, “take the leap and the net will appear”!
Life does have its own beautiful ways of unfolding into limitless possibilities, given that we make a choice and work towards it!