Selecting the right MBA in a highly competitive environment is a life-changer. Learning from the lessons and success of MBA alumni can be a guiding light for many MBA prospects. Ajit Shrivastva shares his insights.

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Ajit has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality and telecommunication industry. His vast international exposure coupled with extraordinary life experience complement his passion for developing leadership skills in aspiring leaders. He has been a consultant to start-ups in retail and IT in Montreal (Canada). In addition, he is a Learning and Development professional for a telecommunication company. Ajit firmly believes The leader is within you. You just have to wake them up.

What is your educational and professional background?

I started my career in the cruise lines sector. Later, I switched to telecommunications since other changes happened in my life. However, in both of the jobs I was dealing with clients, which was the main focus for me.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and an MBA from NEOMA Business School in Paris (France).

At what stage of your life and career did you decide to pursue MBA studies?

For me, doing MBA was a lifelong goal. However, I took time to commit and enrol in the programme. You should choose the right time for an MBA depending on your personal and professional circumstances. It might seem I was a bit late to business school, but it was the right moment for me because I had other responsibilities as my priorities. In general, you should consider MBA studies after gaining 3-5 years of working experience.

How did you select the business school for your MBA studies? How many business schools did you consider, how many did you actually apply to, and why?

I was looking for a programme in which I could get something different from a traditional business education. NEOMA was offering a very interesting course in leadership in collaboration the French Air Force in Salon de Provence. I had a great experience learning the practical leadership skills which are essential for today’s business world.

Read: How to Select the Right MBA Programme for You and Your Career

When I was researching suitable programmes and business school, my major criteria were the programme content, the alumni network, and the tuition fee. NEOMA has a very strong and large alumni network, which is amazing. As I come from Canada (originally from India), I had the opportunity to get support in Canada through the alumni network. On my list of potential programmes, I also had HEC Paris and IE Business School. In addition to the leadership programmes, I was attracted to NEOMA because the duration of the studies was 10 months. I wanted to gain my MBA as soon as possible and get back into the workforce.

What aspects of your experience and your application do you think impressed the admissions committee and helped you gain admission?

Clear motivation for your MBA application is essential for MBA admissions committees, in my opinion, and based on my MBA experience after admission, I feel had a very strong motivation statement.

How did you finance your studies?

Financing the MBA was one of the main concerns for me, as for many other applicants. I had to fund myself for the major part, but I was also granted a partial scholarship by NEOMA.

From your experience, what should MBA prospects consider when planning MBA studies?

Planning your MBA should take into consideration many factors. First and foremost, before doing an MBA prospective students should be confident that they are ready to commit and take responsibility for their own growth. The MBA expands your horizon with great prospects for career development. In my experience each candidate should consider a few things prior to commitment. First, whether they want to stay in the current profession or they are looking to transition to some other areas of profession/career. Second, research how important the programme’s global ranking is in the selected industry and region. Third, if they are looking for a well-ranked business school, prepare to score above 700 (out of max 800) on the GMAT exam. Fourth, research the class and alumni diversity. Finally, find out whether the university conducts the admissions interview on campus.

Your top three pieces of advice to MBA applicants from India?

It has been very interesting for me to see how the market has been shifting from one side of the world to another over the years. Having said that, one has to prepare to cope with the shifts and global changes. Today, over 65% of India’s population is below ears old. This means there is a lot of talent and tough competition. So, choosing a good option for a business school can sometimes become very difficult. Keeping the above in mind, I think Indian students should consider three major things. First, what the programme is offering – will they receive the latest leadership training or is it just a traditional silo programme? Then, how big and diverse is the alumni network? Finally, consider the overall investment and career support to enable return on investment (ROI) within five years.

Read: Why a High GMAT Score Doesn’t Guarantee Admission

How has the MBA degree and experience affected your life and career?

As I have said earlier, I have a very diverse background, from hospitality to the telecommunication industry. In life, you would like to concentrate on certain area where you can contribute the most; at the same time, you would like to do what you love to do. During an MBA, apart from the academic and technical business understanding, I was able to explore my horizon by meeting students from diverse backgrounds. This helped me gain focus for myself. This journey really helped me find my passion and expertise. Now I am professionally focused on leadership and business skills development.

What were the major takeaways of your MBA experience?

The MBA was an experience that was completely different from the rest in my life so far. Overall, it made me confident to deal with any business circumstances, ranging from low level to critical ones. I have very rich life experience which was consolidated by doing the MBA.

Would you agree that the MBA empowers a life-long learning mindset? And how can aspiring business leaders continue their personal and professional development after MBA studies?

Absolutely, after doing the MBA I started looking at my personal and professional life differently. The MBA experience has opened many doors for me. In one sentence I can say it is a life experience which every professional should go for.