With life comes ups and downs. I bet, there isn’t a single person who has not faced a hardship at some time in their life. However, there would be many who overcome these difficult times happily – for some it is in their upbringing, for others it is a learned aspect. But what I have found is those armed with a plan always go further in life.
I wrote MBA entrance exams (for a full-time program) for the top B-Schools in India in 2006-07. I had prepared for more than 3 years to crack at least one of them. Such was my commitment that I took preparatory books even to the US when I went on a short-term assignment through Wipro in 2005. When I came back to India, I used to study day-in-day-out; even during my commute to the office, I would solve mathematical equations (you see, I didn’t want to leave it to chance).
After relocating to Gurgaon from Bangalore, I left Wipro to join TCS around mid-2006. A major reason was I wanted to join coaching with Career Launcher there, they were the best in India back then. I must have practiced countless Mock tests and Group discussions. I would read The Economic Times daily (I did major in Finance) to learn the financial jargon and improve upon my GK. Just before November, when the exams were about to start, the entire vocabulary from Barrons (3500 words) was on my fingertips.
With more than enough preparation as some would say, I wrote my first exam, the Common Admission Test (CAT). I made a strategic mistake there and knew right away I wouldn’t clear it – with that, making it to the MDI or SP Jain was gone. I learned from the mistake. IIFT entrance was lined-up next and I was prepared even more than before. The remaining followed – NMIMS, JBIMS, FMS, XLRI – until the end of Jan 2007.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I only cleared IIFT. I was within 1,100 selected from more than 45,000 who sat for the exam, for their Interview, Essay Writing and GD process. Well, with no option, I prepared even harder. After going through the second stage, I came to know in March that I am 29th on their waiting list (they had 160 seats). Huh! But I still had hope!
From March to June 2007, as people kept on dropping because of their selection(s) elsewhere, the list kept moving up. I had countless sleepless nights that I can remember. But I never gave up – my Mom and I would just think and pray. She would always say i will make it, she is a very firm believer in God.
My project at work wanted me to fly off to Manchester for a long-term assignment early July. I reluctantly accepted that, on the condition that MBA would take precedence in case I was to be selected. However, I always kept an eye on the waiting list as they could take me in before 2nd July when the classes were to start. On 29th June, I came to know that I have finally made it to IIFT and have to join in 3 days. I was on cloud nine with smiles (and tears). The wait from the last 8 months had come to an end!
Looking back, it was a life-changing event, and I knew it back then as well! You don’t get a call from IIFT easily – they were ranked 6th in India by the Wall Street Journal in 2014, 21st in Asia-Pacific by the QS Global 200 Business Schools report, and were placed in the highest B-school rating category (Super league) by Business Standard last year – these are just a handful of the laurels for this eminent institution.
What I learned is to never give up and to always have a plan or, as the video aptly says, #KhudKoKarBuland…I have fought many tough battles since, but with much less stress and positive outlook, because being prepared has always helped me move forward.