2012 Indian School of Business MBA Admissions Q&A with Hima Bindu

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2012 Indian School of Business MBA Admissions Q&A with Hima Bindu

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Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all participants 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 admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts about this top business school.

I also want to give a special welcome to Hima Bindu, Associate Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at the ISB. Also joining us are two MBA 2012 students, Prashant Kumar Ivaturi and Alexandra Sosnovskaya.

Prashant has worked in the IT Services sector in software testing for the financial services sector for the last 8 years and brings an overall of 9 years of experience. He got his Chemical Engineering degree from REC Warangal. He speaks five different languages and has avid interest in singing and dramatics. He is currently the President of the Graduate Student Board at ISB.

Alexandra Sosnovskaya’s professional background is in the areas of change management and human capital consulting. She has worked in Tata Consultancy Services, Ernst &Young, AIESEC in Russia, India and Sri Lanka. She has received her degree in Management from the State University of Management, Moscow, Russia. Alexandra Sosnovskaya is currently the President of the International Club at ISB and studying at ISB on an ISB-AIESEC scholarship.

Thanks to everyone for joining. I am going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question. What’s new at ISB?

Hima Bindu: Let me give you the macro school view. This year we’ve been ranked thirteen in the Global MBA Rankings. And what is high on the agenda is the Mohali campus. Work is proceeding and the entire faculty is lined up, as are the centers of excellence, the research centers -- everything is going as planned. And we are ready to welcome another 210 students come April of next year. The new placement report has come out which shows the latest statistics. It’s available on the website, and it shows the companies that came to recruit, the average salaries, the international salaries -- everything is out. And this year, ISB is celebrating its tenth year since the starting of ISB, and we are doing it with a bang across the world -- in New York, Singapore, the Bay Area, London, and Dubai. In fact, the President of India was recently on campus to speak about the responsibility of students and how they have to build a foundation together, and this was a part of the ISB at Ten celebrations. These are the highlights of what is going on in addition to the regular things that are happening on campus.

Prashant Kumar Ivaturi: From the students’ point of view, this is going to be one of the milestone years for them. It is the culmination of the tenth year celebrations for the school. It has been the first decade of the school and we have been planning quite a few events. Though it’s a one-year program, you will be amazed to hear about the kinds of events we actually have on campus. And the flagship event is the ISB Leadership Summit, which is going to be a massive event this year. That is that the students get to hear from the most accomplished industry leaders, and we intend to bring in some of the best names from around the world and also include some of the participants from previous years. Apart from that we also have other events going on which are slowly maturing. For example, we have what is called “Shadow a CEO”, where students bid for a specific CEO that they want to spend a day with and learn from. And there are some other events which are actually coming up and which we are in the process of formalizing and starting to implement. So those are the kinds of events that they can actually look forward to from a student’s point of view. And this is apart from the regular workshops and industry talks that we keep having on a weekly basis.

Alexandra Sosnovskaya: We are in our third term on campus, and life is moving pretty fast. We are learning a lot of new subjects this term. And I would say for me personally, I like this term’s subjects most of all. We have corporate finance with the best professors from all over the world, and tomorrow we have our mid-term exam. There are no vacations; there are no days off. There are a number of opportunities in which we get to participate and they take all our time. For example, over the weekend we will have a Merchant Club conclave and conference with wonderful speakers, talking about various subjects. This is the time when student clubs activate and they come up with a lot of activities. With our class this year of 570 people, there are so many leadership positions on campus, so I’m just excited to see that everyone is ready to contribute to our own learning. And peer to peer learning is going pretty fine. For me as an international student, I think that is one of the most exciting things, to see how proactive everyone on campus is and how strong the network is among the students.

Linda Abraham: I’d like to ask the applicants a few questions so that we can get some idea of where they are in the application process. How many of you have already applied? Hima, have you had a deadline yet?

Hima Bindu: No. September 15th is the first deadline. The second deadline is November 30th.

Linda Abraham: In that case, how many of you are planning to apply for the first deadline? 43%, 14 out of 32 of the people here, are planning to apply to the September deadline. And how many of you are planning to apply to a later deadline this year? November 30th is the second deadline. Is there a January deadline as well?

Hima Bindu: January 15th is the deadline for international passport holders. That is not Indian passport holders.

Linda Abraham: So how many people are planning to apply after the September 15th deadline? Okay. So it’s 8 out of 32 or 25%. How many of you are undecided as to whether you are applying to ISB? In other words, you are thinking about it but you haven’t decided yet.

Hima Bindu: How many of you have logged into the ISB application?

Linda Abraham: It is exactly half. So that gives some idea of where the guests are in their application process. Veeresha asks, “I’m in the age group of the early forties. I have 18 years of industry experience. In this age group, how do you consider pursuing a full-time program at ISB? Will I be an odd one out with most of the peers in the age group of late twenties and early thirties?”

Hima Bindu: Around 10-15% of the class every year is comprised of people who have more than ten years of work experience. And it is an individual decision that you have to make as to what the school offers you and whether it is suitable for your profile. But we do have people ranging from 10-22 years of work experience over the years. We have actually a special placement cell for people with over ten years of work experience who will help look for roles to place them. So if you can take time off for our full-time program, I would recommend this because learning full-time on campus with your network and peer group is going to be a much different experience than an e-MBA or others which students may opt for.

Linda Abraham: Tathagata asks about online interviews. “How are the evaluation parameters for online interviews different from face-to-face interviews?”

Hima Bindu: The evaluations are the same. For online or face-to-face interviews, the interviewers do not have your GMAT and academic scores so that they are not biased. And there are certain parameters they are given that they are assessing in an interview, so that is basically how they go. A face-to-face interview obviously has a better advantage because of your communication and you can impress with your personality. But an online interview on Skype is also as good. If you are traveling in India during that time, I would definitely recommend a face-to-face. But if that is not possible, there are quite a few applicants who do online interviews. Let me give you some statistics here. We do get 25% of our applications from students outside of India. And over three fourths of them have telephonic interviews. And it’s good to know that 30% of the class is composed of these people. So if you look at any odds or calculations, your chances of making it into the class are as good with an online or face-to-face interview.

Linda Abraham: Anisha asks, “What is a typical day at ISB like for an MBA student?”

Alexandra Sosnovskaya: The term is comprised of six weeks. It is basically like one long period of time. I will describe this semester how it goes for me. I wake up at around 7:15, have breakfast, and rush to the classes. Every day from Monday-Thursday I have two classes. Every class lasts for two hours. And after that, I rush for lunch. And basically the second part of the day starts where I have to prepare for tomorrow’s classes and do my assignments. There are some assignments which I need to submit in writing, some I need to do with my team or do online and submit. And after I’m done with all the academics, I start all the other activities. There might be some sessions. For example, recently we had a talk by the head of Audi in India, and they were launching a very nice competition. So there are sessions like that, and of course, club activities. And there are a lot of projects that students do together in teams; for example, experiential learning projects. Basically students get to do a consulting project for a client which approaches them. And it’s a project over three-four months. It’s also considered an academic course; you get credits for this. This is something very exciting because it is very directly related to industry. The day will be over at around 10-11:00. Then depending on your friends or what you want to do, you can do a party or just go out. It’s very different, very diverse. And I would say that days don’t look alike, though I may have described it in such a way, but every day there is a new topic, a new subject, new people. And there are so many people to meet. So for me the time is passing really fast.

Prashant Kumar Ivaturi: I will give you my perspective on it because I’ve been holding a position that is not typical of some of the students. I’m the President of the Undergraduate Student Body. So my activities are to some extent stretched. In terms of my days, there are different meetings that I also attend apart from the kinds of activities that Alexandra outlined of attending classes and then probably making a visit to the recreational center for a workout or catch up with friends. So I have certain meetings that are planning events; there are also study group meetings that I need to attend. So it’s more juggling and managing your time rather well in my case. But for the majority of the students, it’s about how they want to actually spend their time. They have the choice to do that and they could pretty much get enrolled in certain leadership activities through various professional or social clubs that are at ISB.

Linda Abraham: When I was at ISB in March, we visited the exercise center, and it was just magnificent. It could compete with any rec center or gym facility at any US campus. It was magnificent. Now for another question. The applicant writes, “I am a US citizen and I am considering applying to ISB this year. Is there any restriction on international students when it comes to placements? In other words, are there any companies or sectors which do not look at international students?”

Hima Bindu: No, there are no restrictions at all on placements for international passport holders. Placements are open for everybody. In fact, if you are a US passport holder, there are more advantages in that US companies usually prefer recruiting students who have US passports so that there are no visa regulations that they have to tackle. It’s easier. It opens up more companies for you.

Linda Abraham: Payal asks, “How will it be decided if an applicant is selected for ISB Hyderabad or ISB Mohali?”

Hima Bindu: If you look at the online application, there is a box which gives you the option to select. You can choose “no preference” or Hyderabad or Mohali; it’s up to you. We don’t see a problem for you to get a choice of campus because it is the electives that are going to be different, but the core courses are the same across campuses.

Linda Abraham: So the choice of campus will reflect the interests and the goals of the applicant.

Hima Bindu: Remember that ISB is one school with two campuses. So the quality of the program, the quality of the faculty, the facilities, everything is going to be the same across campuses.

Linda Abraham: You are into your program already. What are your favorite classes and favorite professors that you have come across so far?

Prashant Kumar Ivaturi: There were a couple of courses that I instantly liked. One was Competitive Strategy, taught by Professor Prashant Kale in term two, and that was a phenomenal experience. I enjoyed the kinds of case studies and the way you dissect a particular industry or organization and find out what really is going on in terms of the strategy that is decided. That really shook me, and I took a liking to it immediately. The other was Global Economics which was taught by Professor Bruce Allen, who teaches at Wharton Business School. That was another subject that was in term one, and we really liked that a lot. It’s actually really hard for us to make a judgment against some of the professors or in terms of some of the courses because each professor brings in such a different perspective and so much insight and experience into each of these subjects that you are really spellbound by the end of the term. And we can see that 70-80% of these professors are really highly rated in the opinions of the students, and that is something we really take pride in.

Alexandra Sosnovskaya: I would totally agree with Prashant about this. I also have a couple of professors who are just my favorite. And I remember that we took them out for dinner and I was really surprised at their level of openness to students. They always invite us to come and talk to them during their official hours, and we became friends with some of them. So for me entrepreneurship and marketing are my most favorite subjects.

Linda Abraham: We have several questions asking about how students are evaluated. Can you walk us through the process of what happens to an application as it goes through the evaluation process, and what are the criteria?

Hima Bindu: Primarily, there are five factors that we look at. One is the academic scores of the students for consistency and performance. Second is the GMAT score. Both of these are looked at; we look at the quantitative ability of the student to cope with program because it is a one-year program so it can be pretty rigorous. So we expect certain strength in the academic and GMAT scores so that the student can cope. There are three other main factors we gauge from a student’s application like from the essays and the recommendations that we receive. First of all, the quality and depth of work experience they have. What have they done in their work place? How have they made a difference? Did they handle a crisis? The second factor is the extracurricular activities of the student. Do they have any exceptional extracurricular activities? What do they do outside work? What are their passions? And the third thing is what we state as leadership potential which is assessed from the initiatives the students have taken in their personal or professional lives; all the achievements they have in their personal and professional life.

The first two – GMAT and academics – are pretty much gauged from their scores. The last three like extracurricular activities, quality of work experience, as well as their leadership potential and the achievements and initiatives they have taken is gauged from their essays as well as the recommendations we receive from their workplace as well as outside their workplace. Of course, after this is gauged we shortlist them for an interview. In the interview we are looking at their communication skills, their personality, and team and interpersonal skills are also assessed in the interview. These are the broad parameters through which we assess a candidate before an offer is made.

Linda Abraham: When an application is submitted, do you initially screen let’s say, based on the GMAT or some index number GMAT and academic criteria? What happens to the application?

Hima Bindu: The range of GMAT scores at ISB is right from 570-780. So that in itself shows that there is no cutoff in GMAT; we are open to everybody, irrelevant of what the GMAT is. There were times when we’ve just read the essays and shortlisted candidates. And in fact we counsel quite a few students to retake the GMAT because they may not be able to make it in the competition in other things. So it’s not the be all and end all of selection.

Linda Abraham: But probably it’s not prudent to be confident of acceptance if you are at the bottom of the range that you just gave.

Hima Bindu: Right. The reason I asked at the start of the session how many people have logged in is because a majority of students make a mistake of logging in late to the application. They should log into the application. It’s very user friendly; you can log in and log out. There is no pressure on you to submit it. You can actually keep it for the next three years if you want. It gives you an idea of what the essays are like, what the recommendations are, and you can take your own time on working on it and try to submit things in one after another. You can send your recommenders your forms, have a talk with them, and tell them what you would like highlighted. Logging in will give you a feel for the application. It’s not like you log in today and submit tomorrow. You should take your time.

Linda Abraham: That is an excellent piece of advice to log in. There is no cost to that. In the olden days, you used to get the form and look it over and you’d get a sense of what was going to be required, and then you would probably put it away for a little bit and come back to it. I think that is an excellent piece of advice, so thank you!

In your opinion, what really sets ISB apart?

Alexandra Sosnovskaya: One of the distinguishing features of ISB, I think, is the selection of professors who come on campus. I would like to think it is also very competitive for professors to come here. And I think they all feel honored to come and teach -- that is what they say at least! The second thing for me personally is the campus life. When I was thinking of an MBA program, I realized that ISB is one of the very few programs that really have a campus life, but it’s in such a diverse environment. It’s India and you can really feel it, but at the same time, the facilities and the kind of organization of student life here is just excellent. The third thing I would say is the diversity in the background of the students. In my first section which is around seventy people, I was sitting next to a person who was doing surgeries. He is a doctor and he wants to become a CEO of a chain of hospitals. So for me, these kinds of examples are really exciting, and I really get to learn from people who are really good in quant, and are really good in management, marketing, human resources, and so on.

Prashant Kumar Ivaturi: For me personally, the kinds of things that really helped me are, as Alexandra mentioned, the kind of faculty that come and teach here. That is one. Secondly, it is the diverse pool of people that you get to meet, especially considering that it is essentially the emerging markets which are really taking shape right now. It really helps that you are in that zone or in that sphere of the world where the action is actually happening. So from that point of view, ISB provides the right kind of platform to get the education, and then take off from there. And the third thing I would say for someone who spent a lot of time in the industry and wants to take a quick break and then rejoin the stream, then the one-year program is really effective, and being on campus really helps. I have family here in Hyderabad, and I was a little unsure why they say that you have to stay on campus. But once I came here and spent the last two or three months here, I now really see the reason and the purpose for everyone to stay on campus and have that kind of experiential learning by staying together and being a close-knit family. So those are the kind of things that really help ISB.

Hima Bindu: What I would like to add is that faculty is of course a big factor. This comes from a lot of feedback we have from students. Most of them list faculty as the main factor. But one important thing all ambitious professionals should keep in mind is that the next couple of decades are going to be Asia’s decades. And if you want to differentiate yourself from the rest of the MBAs in the western hemisphere, getting India on your resume right now is the best way to do it. And doing an MBA there, building a network, learning about emerging markets; it is learning that is going to be very important to you. For example, you are working in Wal-Mart and you want your next promotion. Wal-Mart is going to look to enter India, so you can say that you did your MBA at ISB so you have a network there, you know people there, and you know how emerging markets work. So that is a great advantage that the students have -- learning about India, studying here, and building you network, and it’s with the best professors in the world. Which other school can offer you a Wharton and a Kellogg professor under one roof?

Linda Abraham: Rajesh asks, “I was rejected from ISB earlier, and I want to know if that will be part of my records and will hamper my admission process?” And somebody else wrote in, also asking what a re-applicant should keep in mind while applying to ISB? Is there a stigma to being a re-applicant?

Hima Bindu: Not at all. ISB is a very student-friendly school, and we’ve had people who have been rejected 3-4 times and have made it the fifth time. It is a matter of working on your application and being ready for the course. So we are not prejudice at all to students who haven’t made it in earlier rounds, or to students who want to redo an MBA. They will have done an MBA a couple of years back and now they want to redo an MBA. We are not prejudice at all. In fact, 20% of applications we receive are re-applicant applications, and actually 10% of them make it. They may have been rejected because they hadn’t prepared on certain aspects or their work experience was very low – maybe it was just two years or so – and they were not ready for this course. So do not worry about it. But please go out today and ask for feedback on your application. We will be happy to give it to you.

Linda Abraham: So you do provide feedback?

Hima Bindu: Yes, we do.

Linda Abraham: From my perspective, any school that you are considering reapplying to that provides feedback, it is absolutely mandatory that you ask for it.

Prashant Kumar Ivaturi: Personally, I have been a re-applicant twice to ISB. And one of the things which I can reflect back on is that when I reapplied, I had to look back as to what the difference that I had in my portfolio was in terms of how some of my skills had gotten better, and what I could add to my own resume at that point in time. And I could see that I was much more of a mature individual and I understood the business dynamics far better than I could have a couple of years earlier. And I feel that it is probably the right thing that I am in ISB at this point, rather than being here maybe two or three years ago. It’s actually not a bad thing to be a re-applicant because in fact you can enhance your skills set.

Linda Abraham: Rajesh asks, “Do you have better chances of admission if you apply in the September round or if you apply in any later round? Do you have any suggestions in terms of timing of the application?”

Hima Bindu: Your chances of making it into ISB are the same regardless of the round you apply in. But we do advise the September round because you are located abroad and you will have more time to relocate. Your visa relocation is going to take some time. So it’s good to have an early application, get an early decision, and prepare a new one.

Linda Abraham: Nandan asks, “Does the curriculum focus more on emerging markets like India, or on international business all around the world?”

Hima Bindu: The curriculum is a global curriculum which is focused on international business across the world, but there are certain modules which are on emerging markets which will give you that perspective. You can pick those electives or choose to attend those talks that will happen on campus which will give you the emerging markets perspective. There is the Centre for Emerging Markets which is doing research in these areas. Students can take on experiential learning projects or faculty guided research projects, in which they can work in these specific areas. But it is a completely global curriculum with certain emerging markets modules in it.

Linda Abraham: Shashwat asks, “I’ve been working in the US since finishing my bachelor’s in investment banking. Eventually I would like to return to India to pursue my family business. What resources does ISB have to help me through this transition?”

Hima Bindu: We have Professor Ramachandran, who is considered a guru on family business. He is the expert who has written a lot on understanding family deals for Dabur and quite a few families in India. That is one major advantage you have. And we in fact also have a Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development which works on planning an entrepreneur venture. It is an elective you can take. TIE-ISB is a venture capitalist forum which happens on campus every year. And in fact this year we had the first Asian Invitational Conference on Family Business. And we have a Mini Conference on Professionalizing and Growing Multi-Generational Ventures. All these are various things you have available on family business which you can leverage. And we do get 3% of students who are from family businesses who come learn and then go back to their businesses.

Linda Abraham: Samir asks, “I’m in my final year of undergrad and thus applying for deferred admission into ISB. I was curious as to the number people who receive deferred admission.”

Hima Bindu: It is usually only two-three people every year who get this deferred admission from the admissions committee.

Linda Abraham: Andrea asks, “How do you compare the one-year MBA program to the typical two-year program at US business schools?”

Hima Bindu: When McKinsey formulated the ISB program ten years back, they found that the one-year program is going to be the future of the MBA. And when you look at a two-year program and you remove the term breaks, the winter breaks, the summer breaks, and the internship, it actually works out to a 15-18 month program. So all that has been done is they’ve cut out all the frills of holidays and compressed it to a one-year program. But there is actually no lack of classes or depth in the program. You get to do 720-740 contact hours in a two-year program. But as a one-year program you get to do 680, and you have the option of taking it to 720 contact hours if you do an experiential learning project or some other project which is offered on campus. So there is really no compromise on the content of the program as such. It definitely is a rigorous program, but it saves you one year’s opportunity cost. You should keep that in mind. I am sure the students would like to add more onto this.

Prashant Kumar Ivaturi: I was in the US for about four years, and when I started applying for business schools, I was actually contemplating between schools in the US and schools in India. Initially I was intending to do a two-year, full-time program. But later on, I tried to weigh down as to how much of an impact that will have on the kind of time that I was looking at, especially for someone who has spent some time in the industry or even if you are just joining. A one-year program is actually saving you almost 50% of the time to actually get back into the stream, but you acquire as many skills as anyone else who is coming from a two-year program. And considering the kind of tradeoff that you have, it’s not bad at all. You are saving almost one full year to match the skills of anyone else. Though it is rigorous, that is a tradeoff that you always have. Even in the industry, the kind of work that you always do is pretty rigorous. Nothing comes easy to anyone. So from that angle, it’s really beneficial that we get done with the MBA really quickly. And so that is one advantage which ISB really has. So I don’t see ISB in any way being inferior to any of the other two-year programs at all.

Placements are not really good criteria to actually help decide if a one-year program is a good program or not. But you cannot deny the fact that the companies that come onto campus and show their confidence by recruiting almost every single student every year, it goes to show that they are in fact valuing us, the one-year program, on par with any of the other two-year programs anywhere in the world. And about 70% of the faculty that we get here at school is star rated faculty from across various top-notch business schools. And that is something which does not happen at most of the other two-year program business schools. So the pros are really good.

Hima Bindu: That is true about 70% being star rated faculty. And our entire faculty has PhDs of course.

Alexandra Sosnovskaya: For me personally, the one-year program was one of the biggest questions. To be honest, I was initially considering a PhD in business, and you can imagine how long the program is, especially with my specific degree from Russia which is not recognized by anybody in the world. But then I really started thinking about what Hima mentioned about the opportunity cost of this time. I am 27 years old now, and I realized that I would have to break out of professional life for five years, and then a degree takes two years. And then I decided that there are programs that are eighteen months, but I felt that it was still too much. When I found several programs that were 12-month programs, then I decided that if it is possible, if it is recognized by companies and there is such an opportunity that exists, with business moving on so fast now, for me, I thought that was the best opportunity. Yes, it is rigorous; it is happening very fast. But on the other side, I think electives will be the time to capitalize on the rigorous learning which we have right now in the core courses. And we were just doing the bidding for elective courses, and I am really looking forward to start learning in the areas where I want to specialize. I think it is going to work just fine.

Linda Abraham: Juhi asks, “I am an Indian passport holder, but currently working in the US. What is the deadline for such students? What if I don’t have my GMAT scores by the deadline? And about what percentage of the class has less than four years of work experience?”

Hima Bindu: There are two deadlines for Indian passport holders; the first deadline is September 15th, the second deadline is November 30th. These are the two deadlines you have to work towards. If you do not have a GMAT score, it does not matter. I advise you to log onto the application right now. So get started on your recommendations and your essays, and work towards your GMAT score. And we do not need to receive your official GMAT score. You can even take an exam on September 15th, and submit your application with your online score, and the official score will reach us a couple of weeks later before your interview. That is what I would advise you to do. Whether you make the first deadline or the second deadline is up to you, depending on how prepared you are to take the GMAT. But your application is not complete without your GMAT score. You have to submit it with an online score at least.

Linda Abraham: Kannan asks, “I am an Indian citizen working in the US for the past seven years. What are job prospects for someone with my background post-MBA?” I suspect that question is too broad given the data provided. But the second question he asks is, “How many ISBers end up taking jobs in the US?”

Hima Bindu: I wouldn’t be able to give specific statistics on the US as such, but come placement time, 30% of our students take jobs outside of India. And that is the figure we get as soon as placements are over. But if we look at it a couple of years later, we find that over 50% of our students have moved out of India. The trend we are seeing now is that it is a very flat world. I will see a student in India, and next year he is in Google and the Bay Area, and a year later, he is back in Kuala Lumpur looking after Malaysian operations. And that is what we find. Students are in a state of flux and they are all global citizens now moving around in jobs. For example, Deutsche Bank recruits an Indian student and places her in Bombay. Is that international or domestic? Infosys recruits an Indian student and places her in Mexico to help their operations because she knows Spanish. Is that Indian or international? It is truly a flat world where students are moving across the world in their jobs. So statistics may show 30% this year, and then next year it changes. When McKinsey makes an offer, it gives you options like Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, London, or Delhi; it’s up to you. So that is how placements work.

Linda Abraham: Abhishek asks a question: “I’ve heard about the strength of ISB, but what comes across from hearing from everybody is that ISB is not exactly a great finance school. What do you have to say about that rumor?”

Hima Bindu: I will tell you why it is not perceived as a great finance school. Most finance placements happen through internships, and we do not offer that internship. That is the reason it is perceived as not a great finance school. The second factor is that when people are looking to make a career change into finance, they find that without an internship, the transition is going to be difficult. There is some truth in the matter, but if you look at the professors who offer finance here and the type of learning you take away from finance here, it is phenomenal. And we’ve seen students who have made these kinds of transitions into finance from here also. There is some truth in it, but it is not the whole truth. Given that a student is willing to work towards making that transition from technology to finance and they are willing to work towards it, you get the best faculty and the best curriculum. And how much you are willing to work to make it happen is up to the student. And come placement time, you will see that Goldman Sachs, Deutsche, Citigroup, HSBC -- the top four finance companies -- come and recruit from ISB. In fact, we are part of the HSBC leadership development program.

Linda Abraham: Anisha asks, “How would you describe ISB’s strengths and culture?”

Prashant Kumar Ivaturi: I had my own apprehensions about the culture at ISB before coming here. I thought it would probably be a lot more Indian as it was in my undergrad days, or maybe even like in school. But once I came out here, I could see that though a majority of the students are from India, there is so much diversity in terms of the students that are there. So that is one aspect where you get to learn a lot more from people like Alexandra. There are international students from who we can learn about the different geographies. You can learn from the faculty, who are quite open. And each person here on campus, I’ve found that they are quite open to discuss ideas, open to discuss things that they would want to do, and that really helps. It fosters a lot more open debate around things. You can have a chat with somebody. You can have a debate over a cup of tea. Both of you may not agree, but at least it fosters a very nice culture where you are able to discuss ideas and put forward your point of view, and still understand their perspective. So that is the kind of culture that there is at ISB. I was in fact really sweetly surprised that even the management at ISB gives a lot of free hand to students to decide how they want to shape the entire operations at ISB for the students. They let us make a lot of decisions and then decide as to how we want to have the culture at ISB. So that is something that I quite like about the school.

Alexandra Sosnovskaya: I don’t know which country you are coming from and in which countries you have lived before. I am originally from Russia. Most of the students are from India, and this is one of the wonderful chances to learn about the Asian culture, about the Indian culture. And I lived in India before. I worked in a company. Indian culture is generally very friendly. The people are very open and very open hearted. They are very curious to know each other and so on. It’s a good chance to also learn some Hindi if you are interested. If not, everybody speaks English so it is not an issue. I know that sometimes it’s a challenge for international students because they have to adapt. But on the other side, I think it may be of the most important learning because this is what everybody will require in the future; this cross-cultural learning which is very rich here. And for me, everyone has been very supportive and I have made a lot of friends so I totally agree with Prashant about the culture being open. Whatever suggestions we push and we try to implement, I’m just surprised at how everybody is so open.

Linda Abraham: Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Hima, Alexandra and Prashant, for joining us today. If you have additional questions for Hima, please email them to pgpadmissions@isb.edu.

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