I am a Manufacturing professional with 7 years of experience in strategy and product realization in the automotive (Toyota) and aerospace sectors (Cyient).
Additionally, I hold a Master’s in Manufacturing Engineering (Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor). My One Year MBA journey started last August with the realization that this format of management education would be a good addition to my learning endeavors and do wonders for the resume as well.
Two months and countless GMAT mock tests later, I managed a 710 score. I applied to 4 good schools (IIM-A, B and C and ISB) and got admit cards from three and a reject after interview from ISB.
I chose IIM-A after a visit to the institute early this month for a KT and farewell session with the current batch.
Upon careful consideration of what went right and not all that right in my admissions package, it is my strong belief that my USP lay in the way that I projected my profile. To further validate my belief, the schools in which my applications were successful were exactly the ones in which I was able to “present myself my way”.
Let me elaborate on why I feel the presentation of one’s profile plays a clinching role in MBA applications.
Most B-Schools have an application to interview ratio of 3:1 and a similar interview to admit ratio, which makes me feel that the first process is an elimination round whereas the second process is selection.
Thus, the focus in the first round is whether you are good enough. In the second round, it is whether you are better than another, or many others. Thus, you (and your profile) must stand out from the rest.
However, to be brutally honest, most of us have regular profiles with rare nuggets of extra-ordinariness. If you are in the majority (Indian IT Male), the reckoning gets tougher. Hence, it is important that you project these nuggets as strongly and as visually coherent as is possible.
That too, in a time bound environment where you have to make the best utilization of the interview question “Tell me about yourself”.
Below is my approach to this situation. Those of you who have an operations background may recognize this as being in the ‘A3 format’, made famous by the first organization I worked for, Toyota.
I found the art of making A3 reports fascinating, and have been using this in varied situations like preparing for interviews, appraisal discussions and so on. Trust me, this process is yet to fail.
Preparing this sheet for the first time took up a lot of space in the head and a lot of time. However, once a basic format is done and you are comfortable, it is easy to keep updating and using this sheet in different places.
A distinct advantage of preparing a written document is that it helps you to form clear, distilled ideas from the vague thoughts you might have about many aspects of your profile.
In this, I see a parallel with the whole process of business case/plan creation. A clear benefit I had from this approach was that I used close to half an hour to go through this sheet and hence was able to completely control the course of my interviews at the three IIMs! (On a lighter note, my problem with the ISB interview was that they never asked me to “Tell me about yourself” and I did not get a chance to open up this sheet ☹).
Some guidelines to help you prepare your own profile sheet:
- The best tool to prepare such a sheet would be MS Excel. In my opinion, Excel is one of the most versatile business applications ever!
- Before you write a single word, have all the page, font and structure formatting ready. This will help in allocating space to different sections of your profile based on your priorities. Of course, the sheet best works when using A3, landscape orientation.
- Use pictorial representation as much as possible. Minimize the use of words. Most people have high retention power for pictures and very less for words.
- Highlight special achievements like there is no tomorrow. Your profile should literally stand out!
- Use a structured way of storytelling. It helps in organizing thoughts. One such structure could be 5W and 1H: Why, What, Who, Where, When & How.
- Write your own profile yourself. It will be an amazing learning experience and don’t let go off that chance for yourself!
Aniruddha Srinath, who is in the PGPX (2016-17) batch at IIM Ahmedabad, has more than 7 years experience in Manufacturing Strategy and Operations. He has a Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.