If someone asked me to pick one moment when I decided that an MBA is for me, I would find myself scratching my head for a very long time. Because the truth is, there is no one defining moment, instead what I have are a collection of experiences, observations, and periods of introspection that taken together led me down the path to an MBA.
To me the MBA interview was about sharing my story; how do my experiences add up to create a clear reason for pursuing an MBA? What makes this moment the right moment to do an MBA? And what makes me unique? Unlike the other stages of the application process that focused mainly on competencies, I believe the interview is about motivations. It is about whether you can demonstrate that you have the drive to pursue an MBA. If you truly possess a deep desire to succeed in management then you probably already have all the evidence you need buried in your habits and life experiences. The challenge then becomes to “connect the dots” – to link up your experiences into a narrative that makes sense.
My story began in earnest about 6 months into my first job when I began to realise that it wasn’t enough to be a technical expert. Our team was failing to have the impact it could have not for a lack of technical expertise but for a lack of leadership. We weren’t thinking enough about whether we were solving real business problems, and we weren’t listening enough to our customers. In the months that followed that changed significantly and the changes I brought about became part of the narrative I used in my interview preparation. I led several of our customer meetings, proving that I have the ability to communicate clearly. A couple of the projects we worked on started as ideas that I came up with. To demonstrate my unique strengths I thought of another set of events that occurred about 3 years into my job when I met our CEO and talked about Innovation and the company’s strategy; subjects that I am particularly passionate about and ones that I am uniquely placed to tackle given my technical background. A genuine interest always finds some way to manifest itself in your life. In my case, my interest in strategy meant that I began to visit our office library at lunchtimes to catch up on the latest HBR articles.
Once I had these narratives in place, it was important to think about what they have taught me and what I hope to achieve. What is management to me? To me management is about gathering business insights, having a clear understanding of strategy and how to manage people and activities to deepen that strategy. What I hope to achieve is greater impact, and that can only come from better understanding and a job that allows me to influence an organisation to a greater degree.
Siddharth is a student in our 2016-17 Full-Time MBA class.