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2011 Indian School of Business MBA Admissions Q&A with Hima Bindu

Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)

Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I'm the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today's Q&A. First, I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about the Indian School of Business. It is critical to your decision-making process and your admissions chances that you know as much as you can about the schools that you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts about the top business schools. And the experts here today are: Hima Bindu, the assistant director of admissions and financial aid at the ISB. Also, we have two current MBA students at ISB.

Atma Shivalanka, president of the graduate student board. Atma hails from London. After serving in the British Army he did his Bachelor's in Management Sciences from the London School of Economics, during which he interned at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. After graduating he joined Barclays Capital and then moved to India and started an oil-field services business in Mumbai and Delhi before coming to ISB.

Chandrasekhar Ghoda is an entrepreneur based in Chicago, Illinois. His company provides supply-chain management solutions for the healthcare sector. I want to thank all of you for joining. This is your chance to ask questions about the MBA program at ISB, but I'm going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question which is, basically, Hima, could you please provide a brief introduction to ISB?

Hima Bindu: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the session. We are happy to be here talking about ISB and we have two sterling current students who are going to talk about the school and their experiences here too. ISB, to briefly put it, is a 10-year old school, one of the youngest schools to be ranked so highly in the Financial Times global B-school ranking. We are ranked twelfth globally and our associate schools are Wharton and Kellogg, MIT, London Business School -- these are four sterling top-ranked schools with whom we associate. Right from the start our curriculum is cutting edge, and faculty from these top-notch schools come and teach at ISB at different times ,very well from the rest of the other schools. We have a 260-acre world-class campus which is state of the art and all facilities are available here. The highlight of the program is it is a one-year full-time residential program, so a student comes in, in April, and next April you end. We have 36 credits with a global curriculum borrowed from the top universities, and our area leaders come from our partner schools who are these top-ranked schools. It is a wonderful one-year experience and I've seen students transformed. More than anything else, knowing about India, the opportunity it offers, and the advantages it gives you, is very, very important.

All of you who are looking for long-term careers in the global marketplace should try and add India to your resume, and doing an MBA here is the best way you can add value to yourselves. Our placements at ISB have been very good. Even during recession years we've managed to bring in over 350 recruiters, and the top four firms from all sectors come on direct route to ISB. That, briefly, is a glimpse of what ISB has to offer you, and we are open to questions. Any doubts you have on the school please feel free to ask us and we'll be happy to answer them. Any other questions you have you feel have not been addressed you can write to pgpadmissions@isb.edu and we will respond to you. Thank you.

Linda Abraham: That sounds great, and I believe we'll have an email address posted at the end of the Q&A where you can address any unanswered questions. Let's go to the questions that have been posted, at least a couple of them. Indradeep asks: I have an interview call to ISB Round two. I want to understand the nature of the interview and suggested preparation from Ms. Bindu in particular.

Hima Bindu: Indradeep, there's no way you can prepare for an ISB interview, or any MBA interview overnight.

Linda Abraham: Right, that caveat is important.

Hima Bindu: You should be current with the essays and be able to substantiate the points you've made in your essays with good answers on what you're focusing on, why the MBA is essential for you, why you choose ISB, and how it is going to help you in reaching your career and future goals? That's one. The second they're going to ask you about is the depth and breadth of your work experience. Try to check it out -- how good are you at your work, the quality? Next, the questions you're going to get probably are about initiatives you've taken, challenges you've faced, and what you have learned from them. Pretty much any interview is trying to test your communication skills definitely, which is the bottom line, and then all these trends and weaknesses that go into your personality, and what your leadership qualities are -- what are the qualities you bring to the table? And that is what the interview is going to be based on.

Linda Abraham: Are the questions behavioral and/or are they more forward-looking?

Hima Bindu: It is a mixture of both, Linda. Like, if you think a candidate's strength is going to be analytical skills, we will like to test the depth of the strength of his analytical skills, so we will ask him an analytical question.

Linda Abraham: Okay. I would like to ask Atma and Chandrasekhar how they came to choose ISB. Atma, do you want to go first?

Atma Shivalanka: Hi. So, I've been in India for three years now -- so two years prior to joining ISB and, you know, I was actually working on a startup venture in the oil-and-gas sector and I was really interested in picking up some good management skills, and something very relevant to India in particular -- India, Asia, and emerging markets. I wanted to do emerging markets rather than to talk about emerging markets, and I felt that the best way to do that was to be right here and study right here; instead of, being based anywhere else in the world and just observing as an outsider.

So ISB offers me a premium access to that kind of knowledge and skill set, because the kind of research and fascinating individuals that are based here. We have a Center for Emerging Market Solutions which aims to solve society's most basic problems by coming up with market-based solutions -- things like this, that, , centers around the world probably talk about, but here we're actually doing it. So the center actually seeds different entrepreneurs and it tests out a model and then it pushes it out into the real market. So things like that really fascinated me; the opportunity to interact with the director of the center. The other thing that really was an outstanding opportunity was that I was really keen to stay in India and to learn about how to do business in India. So the best way I thought to do that was to meet my peer group. I didn't grow up in India, so I kind of felt a little bit like I had missed out on making a strong peer group and strong connections within my peer group. And I think in India especially, but probably elsewhere around the world as well, business is very much about who you know. And so I decided to take the time to invest a year to build that peer group. So I have access now to 570 classmates who have really outdone themselves into actually getting admitted into the school firstly, and then to the actual work experience, the breadth and depth of their skills and experiences that they bring to the table. That's really exciting for me because that helps me to develop personally and professionally as well. So, in terms of the strength of the networks, it starts with the students, my classmates, but it doesn't stop there. It goes onto the alumni network as well, which is just over 3,000 strong now and it's growing fast, so that also offers some great potential for me.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much, Atma. Chandrasekhar, why did you choose ISB?

Chandrasekhar Ghoda: Sure. Hi, Linda. Hello, everyone, good morning. This is Chandrasekhar Ghoda from ISB. Linda, ISB has been pretty much a well thought out choice for me when I applied and decided which business school I wanted to go to. For the last 10 years I have been in Chicago. In the initial part of my career I worked in the finance industry and in the technology areas and then subsequently I've been working as an entrepreneur for the last six years running a consulting firm based in Chicago. I got into entrepreneurship fairly early on in my career and towards the last couple of years I felt a need to kind of reevaluate my career path and acquire the skills that are more contemporary and relevant to the current business landscape.

Professional and personal reasons brought me back to India. Because I've been out of the country for a long time I wanted to develop my career further in the context of the emerging market economy that India has a lot of great growth opportunities. India's an exciting place to be in right now for a number of non-linear growth opportunities related businesses. At the same time, before pursuing further career opportunities, I wanted to take a break, and acquire these business skills I was talking about in an environment where I would feel intellectually integrated meeting the great colleagues that I have come to meet in the last year at ISB. And also to spend some time reflecting on what I would personally like to do for the rest of my professional life.

I had an opportunity to go to great schools such as Stanford and Kellogg, and I chose to come here to ISB primarily because I am from the city of Hyderabad, and so I have been brought up here in the city. When I left India in 1999-2000, India in this area, it was almost inconceivable for me to think of an institution of the stature of ISB, standing where it is today. It is a great point of pride and it constantly surprises me, even now, to be part of the ISB picture. A great infrastructure, competing international standards -- I've been to many campuses abroad and this easily rates as one of the best campuses in the world when it comes to infrastructure facilities, be it housing or classroom facilities, teaching facilities, et cetera. Point number two is a fantastic faculty. The hybrid model we have of visiting faculty and in - house faculty just works great because, again, there are schools like the IAMs which are the top business schools in India, but they have a different model altogether.

If you are looking at business education in India that is comparable to the Harvards and the Stanfords and the Whartons where you can go to a school and have access to the best faculty in the world, ISB is the place to go -- definitely in India. There is no doubt about it. We have access to professors from Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, London Business School, and pretty much a lot of the top universities across the world. Student body; in a place like ISB you will have an opportunity to not only meet culturally and professionally diverse people, but highly accomplished individuals who you can draw as much from as you contribute to the school in terms of your own participation in school activities. Being a part of such an amazing environment set in the Indian growth context is, I think, a very compelling case for anyone to choose ISB over the other schools, and that's essentially enough -- of course, compared to a lot of the top schools, you know, the total cost of ownership of the program in terms of the fees for this kind of education being very reasonable -- to me it was almost a no brainer. I mean, when I look at what I'm getting out of the school and also what I'm paying for it, it was just a no brainer.

Linda Abraham: Chandrasekhar, are you planning to return to Chicago or to remain in India?

Chandrasekhar Ghoda: I am planning to remain in India, though I am a permanent resident of the United States, so I would ideally like to keep my feet in both places and this is of course a very global world and it's much easier to travel and be a part of other countries and economies and so on. These days it's much easier. So, my preference is to be based in India, but of course you know, transact with opportunities in the US.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Let's go to some of the applicant questions. Ankur asks “what are the resources offered by ISB for students interested in joining pharma or the biotech sector?”. The pharmaceutical companies recruit ISB graduates in manufacturing operations departments. Hima, do you want to address that one? Thank you, Ankur.

Hima Bindu: Hi, Ankur. Year over year ISB receives quite a few doctors and pharma graduates, our highest in Hyderabad. The school where ISB is located is also known for its pharma companies like Dr. Reddy's quite a few bulk-drug manufacturers like that. You know, IDL are located in Hyderabad. Some of the top pharma companies come and recruit at ISB for their strategy roles; not just manufacturing, but also strategy roles. Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, they all come to the campus and do it. In fact, a couple of years back we have even include a healthcare paper in the curriculum because it has been found of importance for all these pharma students and doctors. Anything else you would like to know we'd be happy to answer. And, Ankur, you'd be happy to know that the Mohali campus, which is slated to start in 2012, has a complete healthcare research center being setup exclusively for healthcare.

Linda Abraham: Hima, Nitin asks if there is a student-exchange program in the one-year MBA program.

Hima Bindu: We do have exchange programs with 36 schools across the world and these happen during the seventh and eighth terms. These last from six weeks to two months depending on the school you go on exchange to. It includes something like around 12 schools from the US and then HEC, Paris -- you name it, CEIBS in China, CKGSB in China, HKUST, and NUS in Singapore -- across the world you have exchange programs. The cost of the exchange is included in the tuition fee of ISB. It's just the airfare and the living expenses you have to take care of. Students choose these exchange programs based on the electives they want to do in the exchange schools or the faculty they want to listen to, or based on their career and business options they have in mind for the future.

Linda Abraham: Great. The next question is for the current students and it's from Ashutoshi, and he asks I'm interested in entrepreneurship post-MBA, interested in ISB's incubative program by WCED. Can you please elaborate on the incubator program? How many teams apply for the program? How many of them are accepted or selected?

Hima Bindu: The Wadhwani Center for Entrepreneurship was the first center that was established at ISB. In the incubator, around 5% of students usually use these facilities from the classroom. PAEV, Planning An Entrepreneurial Venture, is an elective that is offered at ISB. Over 80% of students take it.

Linda Abraham: Wow.

Hima Bindu: And most placements, around 5% of them, use the services of WCED. We cannot give an exact figure on the number that has come out or what has fructified into industry because quite a few alumni keep coming back with new projects, and some people who have been placed give up their careers to come and take part in this. This is called a K Hub and it is done jointly along with APISC and the Government of Bangladesh.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Chandrasekhar or Atma, have you participated in this program?

Chandrasekhar Ghoda: No, I have not participated in this program since I already have an entrepreneurial background, but I am aware of a number of fellow students who have participated in the PAEV, and a few in our current batch of my colleagues here who have opted out of the placement process in order to pursue this entrepreneurial development program. The PAEV, I think, is an excellent opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs or people who want to find out whether they have the entrepreneurial streak, to engage in something creative. Some of those opportunities in the past have translated into very successful projects. A few of our alums from previous batches have had great success converting some of these ideas into enterprises that have found seed in the PAEV program. So I think it's an excellent opportunity for students to get credit for what they're doing academically and also take support from faculty to translate some of their ideas and lend some structure to them.

The incubator program is also something which is an excellent addition to the ISB curriculum for the simple reason that ISB offers an opportunity for people to opt out of the placement process to pursue their ideas and to actually do so in a very structured manner. Faculty support and advice is given, industry contacts are provided, some amount of support with respect to seed funding, office facilities, communication lines, accommodations for housing -- those kinds of elementary supports are provided to the students. I remember when I pursued my entrepreneurship I actually created my 401(k) account, which didn't have much in it anyway, and go through all the ups and downs of being a garage level operator, but the kind of flexibility that ISB allows and the support that it lends to students who are serious about pursuing entrepreneurship, I think is by far the best anybody can get.

Linda Abraham: Great, great. Atma, would you like to comment on this question?

Atma Shivalanka: Yes, sure. See, my feeling was that coming into ISB as a previous entrepreneur, I didn't want to spend too much time outside of the classroom looking at entrepreneurial initiatives, which the school does have to offer as CG and Hima have elaborated on. But what I wanted to do was get the maximum exposure to a very sort-of academic structure and academic framework to the kinds of things that I was interested in which I felt would be useful should I go back to being an entrepreneur afterwards, which I am interested in doing. So for example, the actual credit courses that I'm going through, which are part of both the core terms and the elective terms, are very much fundamental to being an entrepreneur. So it's not that we just have to focus on what can we do outside the classroom in entrepreneurship, it's very much what we're doing inside the classroom as well.

So in the core terms there's a course in entrepreneurship and in the elective terms there are courses in, for example, business law, capital raising, investing in private equity -- so these are some things that you can say are even marginally related to it, but looking at really the core syllabus; corporate strategy, marketing, corporate finance, accounting -- these are all skills which are completely fundamental to being an entrepreneur. And, you know, I have no doubt in my mind that they'll be very useful to me going forward. And I can say that with the benefit of hindsight because I spent two years as an entrepreneur struggling with these concepts. So, I now have the confidence and the skill sets to go back to my venture and use the skills that I've picked up here. And I think that it's important to look both inside and outside the classroom.

Linda Abraham: That's great. Thank you very much. Okay, let's return to some questions from the applicants, and this question is from Vikram and it's probably really for Hima and for Chandrasekhar and Atma to answer, but let's ask Hima to answer it first. Vikram asks, typically MBA programs globally are two years duration. How does the ISB balance the curriculum to reduce the term to one year? How do you accomplish in one year what most schools do in two?

Hima Bindu: Well, Vikram, the thing is that though other schools have two-year programs, once you remove the summer break, the winter break, the term breaks in between, and the internship program you have, it actually works out to being a 16-month program. A two-year program has 720 to 740 contact hours. At ISB when McKenzie did the first strategy plan for the school, they removed all the frills, all the holidays, and they made an eight-week to 12-week term into a six-week term. And so what's taught in the first year is taught in the first four-core terms. What's taught in the second year is taught in the second four-core terms and believe me, it's an intensive program. There are no time breaks, there are no Christmas holidays. And, as such, it is an intense program and you actually get to do 680-720 contact hours at ISB in one year. That is how the program has been formulated to suit the one-year model, but there is actually no compromise on the content or the coverage of the program.

Linda Abraham: I see, okay.

Hima Bindu: Probably the students will tell you how they cope with the hours.

Linda Abraham: That was going to be my next question; do you feel that -- obviously it's intense, there's no question that it's intense. Do you feel that it's too much so? Do you feel you still have time of the extracurricular activities that the two-year programs are well known for? What would you gentlemen say?

Atma Shivalanka: Yeah, I mean I think that one of the things you have to pick up at business school, whether it's ISB or anywhere else in the world one year or two years, is how to manage your time effectively. And I think that here in a one-year program you learn that lesson in a much more thorough way for sure. So I sleep probably 5-6 hours a night, some nights I only sleep four or five hours, but it's something that you get used to. I think even in corporate life you have to be very disciplined as well, so it's kind of preparing you for the real world as well in many ways. And I'm very careful about how I plan my time. I have a lot of leadership responsibilities on campus and I have my own personal responsibilities. I'm still running my company on the side. I have my family commitments. I'm also a keen sportsman. I run long distances. So outside of the classroom I'm still having fun as well, and I'm able to keep up with my work and to keep up with the grades. It's just a fundamental question of being very, very effective of planning your time and being professional, being mature, and just understanding that this is not high school, this is not college, this is business school and we're here to actually be effective and efficient.

And if you come with that attitude, I think that you'll embrace the one-year nature of the course. And, you know, I think it makes a lot of sense as well because -- especially for students that have say more than five years of work experience and are above the average age, for me personally, the opportunity cost of doing a two-year course was just too high and I took a conscious decision to focus on a one-year program because I felt that I could do everything I wanted to do, I could learn everything that I wanted to, I could meet all the people I wanted to in terms of my peers. I could meet all the businesspeople and have access to industry, and I could do all of that in one year and still enjoy the program and have fun. We're nine months into a 12-month course and I can confidently say that it's been everything that I expected.

Linda Abraham: That's great, thank you. Chandrasekhar, would you like to comment on this question?

Chandrasekhar Ghoda: Yes, I mean I completely echo what Atma said. In addition, what I would say is that, you know, one week at ISB and it's not very difficult to figure out how a two-year program is condensed into a one-year program. I keep telling most of the students or aspiring students that I meet that ISB is like a grand buffet. You have a lot of dishes and you have a limited appetite, and you have to pick and choose what you want to eat. And apart from the academic course load, which is relentless and also compulsory, there are a lot of other things that you could participate in; seminars, workshops, speaker series, business school competitions, and so on. So it's up to the individual. It's more about time management. I disagree with the notion that it is so stressful that it would burn you out, it's just a matter of knowing what really you want to do. So in that sense it is, at the same time a very cathartic experience, and also a very clarifying experience. By the time you graduate out of B-school, the one thing that you will gain is that no other work will seem stressful enough because you've already been through the worst of it, and secondly, I think it helps people really understand what they really want to do, what they really like to do, what to pursue, what not to pursue, and do it consistently and efficiently.

And then of course Atma rightly mentioned that the one-year program is a great advantage to people who have work experience because the opportunity cost of taking off two years mid career is pretty high for a lot of people. And then another thing that I believe in is that the intensity of the program has a deeper impact on the learning process of students. When you're at it consistently you can tend to get more efficient in your decision-making. You tend to get more decisive with respect to what you want to do. You learn to work under pressure situations with calmness and with people who start off as strangers -- and I think it's a great experience. It definitely has several advantages over the two-year program.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. We have a few questions here about amount of work experience, and before I present them to Hima I'd like to take a poll of the attendees. So, my question to you applicants is how many of you are concerned that you have too much work experience? Thirty-five percent of the people in the audience are concerned they have too much experience, 65% are not. And then the next question is the exact opposite, because I also have questions from applicants related to that. How many of you are concerned that you have too little work experience? Well, people are definitely concerned that they have too much or too little and I think we can get a picture from this. Here 39% say they're concerned they have too little experience, and 61% are not concerned. The question for you, Hima, now that we've had this little exercise, first of all from Chandra who asks I have 15 years work experience, and is that too much? I'll be 39 by the time I'm ready to apply, is it considered late age-wise and will it negatively affect the application?

Hima Bindu: No, it does not. Every application at ISB is assessed holistically and, Chandra, you'll be happy to know we have people with as little as three-years work experience up to 22-years of work experience composing the class. In fact, around 15% of the class has people with over 10 years of work experience. So, there's actually no right age or wrong age to do an MBA, it is when you're ready for it. We have army officers, as well as surgeons who come in with around 18, 16, 13, 22 years of work experience, who have been accepted in the school and are doing very well and are giving the younger students a run for their money in the competition.

Linda Abraham: Great. And then we have a question, which is why I asked both ends of the age spectrum and this is from Ansuman who asks does ISB consider candidates with relatively one-dimensional work experience in a vertical area, under three years? For an Indian applicant, how would that play out?

Hima Bindu: I would like to say that it is a holistic evaluation. Yes, even if it is one dimensional and it is under three years, we will still consider your application. And 10% of applicants have less than three years of work experience at ISB, and they are taken in for their contributions in the workplace, their achievements outside their work, and the other initiatives they have taken. So, there is no particular factor on which any application is rejected.

Linda Abraham: Okay.

Hima Bindu: And in fact, Chandra's question earlier had a statement that said what is a score that is acceptable? There is no cutoff GMAT score at ISB. The range of GMAT is from 550 to 780, so it really doesn't matter. The admissions committee just has to be convinced, either through your academic scores or your GMAT score, that the student will be able to take the rigor of the program. That is most important to us, but there is no cutoff that a below 600 doesn't get in or above 750 is a guaranteed admission -- there are no such things at ISB.

Linda Abraham: And the original question from Chandra seemed to assume that there was a relationship between amount of work experience or age, and a specific GMAT score that's required. You're saying that's just not there?

Hima Bindu: No, there isn't.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Next question from Indradeep; I'm just curious to know, can Ms. Bindu share how the ongoing recruitment events in ISB are going? If you can please give an industry wide rough breakdown of placements to date?

Hima Bindu: Okay, I think around day one 23 companies came on, and around 180 students got offers. Probably Atma and Ghoda will be able to throw some more light on it because both of them have participated in the placement process.

Linda Abraham: Yeah, I was just going to turn the question. I actually have a follow-up question I want to ask them -- Atma, why don't you answer first? You actually have a job lined up already if I understood correctly, how was that the process been?

Atma Shivalanka: That's correct. There were 24 companies that came on day one itself. Day one actually was just last weekend, and in fact day one is a misnomer -- it consists of three days. And we had 180 offers, of which there was some overlap -- some students had more than one offer. So, 124 students have accepted offers on campus, and that's been wildly successful. In fact, it's been the most successful day one ever in the history of ISB. So, you know, it's really boding quite well for the remaining days. There's another nine days of placements to go, spread out over the next month, so another 250 companies at least coming to campus. Most of them are domestic, but there is probably a good a 50 or so international companies yet to come, and there have already been about 40 international offers gone out so far as well. So you know, the class is very happy.

Linda Abraham: Wow. Atma, how big is the class?

Atma Shivalanka: The class is 570 students, so of that, 124 have already been placed and have accepted offers. So, the numbers indicate that this will be the best placement season ever. The companies that come on day one are typically the big consulting firms, BCG, Boston Consulting Group, Bowes, McKinsey, Parthenon, A.T. Kearny, Oliver Wyman, as well as a bunch of finance companies such as CORTAC and the Royal Bank of Scotland, and ranging all the way to the tech companies as well, recruiting for their management tracks -- such as Facebook, Yahoo!, Amazon, Microsoft, Google. And there's also general management programs in a number of other companies such as what we mentioned earlier; Novartis, ITC, Procter & Gamble, et cetera. So, some really big companies coming, real multinational companies, as well as a lot of Indian companies such as ITC as well. So yeah, it's going to be a great placement season. It started off very well. I personally have just got an offer from McKinsey & Company to join in India.

Linda Abraham: Wow, congratulations.

Atma Shivalanka: Thank you very much. I obviously am very chuffed. That's to join as a junior associate on the India team. It's based in one of their three offices here; Delhi, Bombay, or Chennai, and that'll be as a consultant advising companies on strategy and implementation.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Chandrasekhar, I believe you're returning to your company, so have you been at all involved in the recruitment process?

Chandrasekhar Ghoda: I have been involved in the recruitment process, Linda. I have a few opportunities in the pipeline, but the option to go back to my own company still remains, but I will have to make a call on it later this first quarter. But having been a part of the placement process in the sense that I volunteered on day one, so in fact I was helping companies schedule their interviews and helping candidates with their interview schedules and so on. Having observed it closely, here's what I know. One is, since I studied abroad and two, have been part of a placement process in a US university, I can comment on the fact that this is, again, easily one of the most well-organized and driven placement processes that I've seen anywhere. Second is that this year we've seen an increase in almost over 30% in the number of positions that have been offered by companies across the board, and about a 15-20% increase in the number of companies which have participated in the placement process. Like Atma said, this is likely to be the best ever placement year at ISB. Secondly, the way the process is orchestrated and the student participation in the process makes it easily one of, again, a very, very compelling reason to look at ISB as a school to join because being a student it's almost like you have the entire diversity of the industry and the opportunities that are presented to you for you to take up and pick and choose from -- considering you'll do well of course. But I think that's another fantastic point to consider.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Atma, did you have something you wanted to add?

Atma Shivalanka: Yeah. The one thing that I wanted to add was that the process of placements is fundamentally driven by students. The student council, which takes care of that, is called the placement committee and it's one of six councils within the graduate student association, and the students themselves decide the placement policy. So, we decide the structure of the different processes that happen in the run up to placements day one. We even decide which companies come on day one and which companies come on day two, et cetera. We decide how many applications students are allowed to make. We decide how many offers students are allowed to have. So, it's all very much driven by us, and it's by us and for us. So, every class that comes to ISB has different requirements and as time goes on, requirements change. And this policy is quite unique in that it reflects our tastes, our preferences. So, I think that that's one of the great advantages of ISB as well. The other thing is that, of course, placements are not the be all and end all. We have been spending a lot of time this year coaching students and encouraging them to really focus on reaching out to recruiters themselves and creating their own dream career opportunities outside of the placement system, and that's been reflected in some students getting opportunities off campus, and that's very much encouraged. There's a process to do it as well, and it's a great way to get a job that you can be pretty confident that you'll enjoy, that will pay well, and that you'll be attracted to stay involved in for several years. So, off campus, as well as on campus, both exciting opportunities here and I think that it's important to emphasize that the networking and the coaching and the collaboration amongst the students helps in this off-campus process as well.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. Let's go back to the questions, but I think all your answers really were fantastic. Arun asks, how is an application evaluated? Hima, this is for you. Could you please elaborate on the steps and stages an application goes to after submission? What are the key attributes that ISB focuses on or wants to see in an application?

Hima Bindu: An application primarily is evaluated on five parameters: one is the student's academics, second is the GMAT to check on how his quantitative and verbal abilities -- how will he able to take the rigor of the program. The other three aspects; the third one is the number of years of work experience and the quality of this work experience. The fourth one is extracurricular activities as to what a student has done outside his work, what are his passions and interests, and how far and to what extent does he pursue them? The fifth one is leadership potential based on the student's initiatives he's taken, the challenges he faced in life, and what did he learn from them. These are gleaned from various parts of the application like the essays, the recommendations that the students submit, as well as, of course, his academic achievements and extracurriculars and awards that he lists down in the application. Basically these are the five factors in which we evaluate an application and once shortlisted, of course, there's an interview that goes on where we are testing our students' communication skills and depth of his work experience.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. Another question here and this is kind of a follow-up to the one-year two-year one. This is from Abhishek. He asks, I have a question regarding the one-year program at ISB. Do you think the program at ISB is robust enough for a career change? How do recruiting companies at ISB look at career change? Can you suggest some data? And there's a very similar question from somebody else here also asking about how well does ISB support career change as opposed to career enhancement, especially since it doesn't have an internship opportunity?

Hima Bindu: Yeah. Around 60% of students at ISB manage to make a career shift. There are two types of career shifts you're talking about; one is an industry shift and one is a function shift. Eighty percent of students at ISB manage to make either a function shift or an industry shift. It's only 20% who manage to make an industry, as well as a function, shift. That's how it works at ISB. And that being said, it is difficult to make a career shift, but the onus of the shift lies a lot on the student. For example, in the case of technology, if a person wants to make a shift into finance or banking, it is going to be all the more difficult. But we've seen shifts like this being made in the school where the student has worked hard on it, has aced all the finance papers, become the finance club president, networked extensively through the club with finance professionals, and managed to make a shift. And we can quote quite a few examples like this where a dentist became a venture capitalist, where a public servant has become a Novartis strategist -- that way. They are difficult to make, but they have been done, and the school brings the recruiter onto campus, gives you the opportunity, the learning, and the window to do so. It is up to the student to swing it.

Linda Abraham: Great. We have a question here which I'm going to -- this is actually a two-part question and this is also from Arun. He's asking about recruitment opportunities in strategy consulting, and he also asks what is the breakdown in terms of domestic versus overseas placement? And I actually wanted to ask how are ISB's placements outside of India -- so there are two questions there.

Hima Bindu: Linda, this is a very difficult question for me to answer because I keep getting this question on and off and the reason is if Deutsche Bank recruits a student and places him in Bombay as an investment banker, is that international or local?

Linda Abraham: Right.

Hima Bindu: And if Infosys recruits a Spanish student and places him in Mexico as head of operations, is that local or international?

Linda Abraham: Right.

Hima Bindu: We are living in such a flat world now.

Linda Abraham: It is a global market.

Hima Bindu: At the time of placement, if you see -- statistics are like 30% of students get international placements and the rest of them are placed locally, geographically in India. But when we did an alumni survey, we noticed that 60% of them in the next couple of years have moved across the world. The technology professionals have gone to Australia. The finance guys who are in South America as well as Russia -- McKinsey posts them either in Dubai, Germany, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and so it's in a state of flux where students are traveling across the world. I would like to say they have global placements and they're traveling wherever work dictates. And the year after that, they're probably back in India, you know?

Linda Abraham: I hear what you're saying.

Hima Bindu: But at placement time, to put tight figures you can say it's 30% during placement who get international things, and when McKinsey makes an offer they give you three or four options as to where you would like to go. And Goldman Sachs, I have seen them go to London, Novartis to Switzerland -- it works that way, but it's not a standard figure. It keeps changing year on year.

Linda Abraham: Okay. We have a couple questions here asking about opportunities for students who want to focus on marketing. One is from Ansuman who asks, what are the resources available for those wishing to concentrate in marketing? And this is also a question from Prithwis who asks do you have companies recruiting students for product management roles in the technology sector? They're related questions, not identical.

Hima Bindu: I think I'll leave the first part of the question, the marketing, the current students Atma and Ghoda to answer. I'm hoping that both did the mark strategy, which is supposed to be phenomenal on campus. Mark strategy is done on campus and that's supposed to be a phenomenal elective to be done and students go through a lot of this. And the second part of the question; product management roles are Google, Microsoft -- quite a few top companies come for these roles onto campus, and many of them make a career shift into it.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Atma and Chandrasekhar, would you like to comment on the marketing strategy class?

Atma Shivalanka: So, just on the product management side, the companies that Hima mentioned, they do come -- in fact, Google in particular comes for product managers. Product management roles are particularly tough to get because it's very competitive. It's like the best job that you can get out of the placement system, so many students are highly motivated to go for them, but there are a number of companies that come for those roles. On the marketing side, the core term electives include marketing management and marketing decision-making, and in the elective terms there are a number of opportunities. There are probably about three or four electives in each of the elective terms -- each of the four elective terms, so probably a total of at least 15 or 16 electives in marketing that you can do in the second half of the program ranging from everything to do with conjoint analysis all the way up to rural marketing.

And there is amazing faculty coming from around the world. In fact, conjoint analysis in the elective terms is taught by the professor who coined the very phrase itself and he comes over from the US to teach it. There are professors like Jagmohan Raju coming from Wharton to teach core term marketing. So really the resources in terms of the academics are there, but one thing that I'd like to add as well is the opportunity to actually go out in the field and get involved in real-life marketing case studies. And that's through the Experiential Learning Program. In fact, the ELP is not specific to marketing. It's across all areas, but it's worth bringing it up here. The ELP, Experiential Learning Program, is a student-led consulting project. Teams of five or six students commit to doing 600 man hours of consulting for a real corporate client, delivering real strategic advise over a period of three or four months starting in term five -- so, from August to December.

And the idea is that you set a project charter, you travel to meet the client, you agree to a framework, agree to very specific objectives about what you want to get out of the project, and what the company wants to get out of the project. The company pays a fee to the school to cover the administration costs -- it's a very nominal fee, and there are two types of ELP projects; one is closed and one is open. The open projects are sourced by the school itself, the closed projects are sourced by the students, and students can opt to recruit their own teams or join other people who are interested in focusing on these projects. So, there are a number of marketing-focused projects coming in the open channel, and if there's nothing there that takes your fancy, there's plenty of ways for you to go and approach companies and say to them look, I want to help you with your most fundamental marketing problems and apply the academic frameworks that I've learned in class to your real problems. And that's happened as well, where students have been able to offer real strategic marketing advice to companies and improve their sales -- and that looks fantastic when you're applying to these companies -- not just the client that you did the project for, but any other company as well, because it shows that you have a real commitment to excellence, a real commitment to applying things outside of the classroom, and a real grasp of the concepts. And, you know, there has been several instances of students receiving pre-placement offers from their corporate clients prior to placements day one.

Linda Abraham: Well, it shows that you've already achieved results and had impact. Chandrasekhar, would you like to add anything to that?

Chandrasekhar Ghoda: Just a couple more quick points. I think Atma's answer was very extensive. In addition to the curriculum and the opportunities, there are a couple of other things that help embellish students' skills in marketing areas. One is business school competitions and case competitions that allow students to participate in close to real life case situations and analysis of such situations applicable to marketing and marketing strategies. Going through these competitions and participating in the competitions itself is a great experience in terms of learning, and achieving success in these competitions allows students to of course showcase those accomplishments on their resumes, which in turn facilitates their transition into marketing goals. Second is, for instance we have this year an HUL-sponsored, Hindustan Unilever Limited sponsored certified program in marketing, which I was over five days of extensive marketing, applied marketing techniques, and so on, in the FMCG industry. So that allowed a lot of students who were interested in the FMCG sector to learn about those marketing techniques and to get a certification in that area. The third is, of course, apart from pure marketing roles in traditional industries like the FMCG sector, et cetera, most of the companies that come to campus do have a sales and marketing function, and those also are there for anybody interested in marketing to apply to. Hima was talking about marketing strategy, mark strat -- there is the course called Marketing Strategy, but we also have assimilated business games called mark strat which is part of the division students can participate in.

So you can create your own products, you can define your own product attributes, you can test certain assimilated markets, you can see how your product market share changes, how much revenues you gain, how much you commit to R&D, advertising expenses, and so on, and so it kind of gives you a very, very real-life interactive experience of marketing. And these are some of the things that facilities students greatly, particularly those who want to make a transition into marketing goals.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. Our time is just about up for today. I want to thank you all for participating. A special thanks to Hima, Atma, and Chandrasekhar, for joining us today. If you have additional questions please email them to pgpadmissions@isb.edu. So, if you have additional questions that we were not able to answer here, you can have them answered just by emailing that address. We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. As you can see, we have several upcoming Q&As, including

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Good luck with your applications! I want to thank you very, very much for coming. I also want to acknowledge that many of you, especially those located in India, have stayed up very late to attend this event, and special thanks for your interest and commitment. So, thank you again and good luck with your applications.

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