Vibha Kagzi holds an MBA from Harvard Business School (USA) and a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University (USA). She has also pursued courses at the University of California Berkeley (USA), London School of Economics (UK), Indian School of Business, and Xavier’s Institute of Communications (India). She is a certified Leadership coach from Coach for Life, USA. Her professional experience spans finance, fashion, media, and public relations. She has worked in New York for BlackRock Securities, an asset management firm, spent time with her family business in the fashion accessories industry and helped establish a California-based hedge fund in India. Currently she is founder and CEO of admissions consulting company ReachIvy.

In her interview with Access MBA, Vibha shares insights into what it takes to gain admission to, and graduate from, a top business school. She also reveals how she would solicit advice from admissions directors, alumni and current students and gives her take on how to make the most of personal meetings at One-to-One MBA events.

Check out: Choosing an MBA: Aim as High as You Can Reach

How did you decide to pursue an MBA programme?

During my time with the hedge fund I interacted with fund managers and CEOs of top companies, most of whom had an MBA from top-tier schools. I realised that an MBA teaches you one the most important skills - how to deal with people. It helps one gain more insights and strengthens one's fundamentals across business domains. I also witnessed firsthand the prestige an MBA from a top school provided.

What were the best experiences during your MBA studies?

Two years at business school dismissed any doubts I had about the efficacy of a global MBA, given the high monetary investment, opportunity cost, and time involved. My classmates came from various parts of the world such as Haiti and Latvia. I joined several ‘learning trips’, joining my classmates in Japan, Mexico and California, and forging strong cross-cultural expertise. The classroom contained experts on private equity, consulting, energy, retail, media, fashion etc., exposing us to a wide range of perspectives. The relationships you cultivate on campus continue to strengthen over time. Now, each time I confront a business dilemma or consider tapping into international markets, I quickly ping a classmate and immediately reach a resolution.

How has your career and personal growth changed during and after business school?

There have always been personal, academic, and other benefits which I have received during and after my MBA. I grew personally because of the opportunity to live independently. I became a self-reliant and confident person. As an international student, I got to understand a wide range of perspectives on even the smallest of issues. I picked up valuable life skills as I grappled with day-to-day issues. Whether it is traveling to remote places without internet connection or merely getting a flat tyre fixed, I faced many hurdles. One of the greatest benefits of studying abroad was improving my communication skills.

In terms of academic benefits, with the world’s best minds within reach, I gained access to cutting edge knowledge. Also, I may have started out as a financial analyst, but over the period of my internship, I discovered that my talents lay in fund raising, operations, and strategy.

In terms of career benefits, a foreign study programme was my golden ticket to experience the world. Studying at an international school also helped me develop leadership skills. I had an opportunity to lead and create teams.

If you had to select your MBA programme now whom would you ask for advice?

I would definitely reach out to experienced consultants in the field of education as they will guide you and give a clear picture of what would be the right choice based on your current situation and market scenario.

If you could meet MBA graduates, current students, and admissions teams before selecting your programme, what would you ask them?

I would like to ask current students about the challenges they faced while applying for business schools abroad, interesting experiences in school they had to date, networking opportunities and social life.  

I would ask admission officers about career assistance for international students, diversity at the business school, employability rates after graduation, and what the typical day an an MBA student looks like.

I would ask graduates about the factors they considered in choosing a particular school, but also about the environment and academic and career support at the school.

What does it take to gain admission to, and graduate from, a top business school?

Top business schools tend to admit students who display enormous ‘passion’ or drive in whatever they do. The applicants who make the cut are people from very diverse backgrounds but what unites them is their intense passion for their field of expertise. Applicants who display exemplary leadership inside and outside of their workspace are likely to get admitted.

You will be attending the Access MBA event soon. Why should prospective graduate school students come and speak to you?

Being an educational mentor for a decade I have learned the ins and outs of the entire application process and have delivered results too.

You have worked with Access MBA for over five years now. Why should prospective MBA applicants come to the event and meet admissions teams one-to-one? How should participants prepare for these meetings?

Events like these are extremely valuable. Participants can use these forums to dispel any doubts and queries. They also get a chance to interact with admissions directors one-to-one, which is priceless. It gives students an opportunity to present their skillset to the school and also determine if the school is the right fit for the student.

Students should realise that a clear picture and in-depth research can help them have a detailed and in-depth conversation. Participants should also research the market trends so they can ask relevant questions.