Scoring a good 710 in his GMAT, Sudhanshu Datta is today an MBA student at one of the elite Business Schools of the world, Cambridge Judge Business School. After completing his Bachelor’s in Commerce from Delhi University, Sudhanshu has done full-time PGDM from IMT Ghaziabad. He started working in 2005 with Olam International Limited Singapore as a commodities trader. After spending three years with Olam in Singapore and parts of Africa, Sudhanshu returned India in 2008 and joined ITC on their coffee trading desk. He has also worked with the Danone distributor in Bahrain as Divisional Manager from 2010 to 2013 handling a PnL worth 20 Million USD.
Sudhanshu Datta gives a glimpse into his journey to Cambridge Judge Business School in a candid interview with Careers360.
How did you prepare for the GMAT? I took an online course from Knewton as I was working in the Middle East but the online course was just to ensure discipline to make sure that I stay on course and don’t lose momentum.
What are the type of questions and the difficulty level that you faced in the GMAT?
The difficulty level was similar to what one encounters in the mock tests –GMATprep etc. However, I must add that one should not get too worried about questions from probability or coordinate geometry as one does not get a lot of questions from these topics.
Any tips you would like to share with prospective GMAT examinees expecting to be admitted into a Top MBA College like Cambridge Judge?
One should look at websites of the Business Schools one is interested in and try and be around the average of those schools. What is important for Indians is also to understand that they are competing against other Indians and hence should try and be above the Business School’s average. I would want to add here that GMAT is just one of the several factors considered while evaluating an application.
What were the challenges you faced during the GMAT preparation?
The biggest challenge is to just maintain the momentum and the motivation. If one can keep up with that, then the rest just follows.
Tell us something about your journey after the GMAT.
I had a fair idea of the schools I wanted to apply to and hence right after I got my score I started working on the applications. I had decided on applying to five schools and since I was looking at only 1-Year programmes, it wasn’t very difficult. I made sure that I applied in the first round deadlines of all of these five schools. I would say this phase is probably the most difficult and crucial as what Indian students fail to realize is that the overseas business school application process is quite different from India and hence things just start with getting your GMAT score and it isn’t the end.
How did you prepare for the application and the interview required for getting into the chosen schools?
The best way to prepare for your interviews is to get your stories on paper, things like your most challenging moment or when you had to be a leader or when you had to face failure etc. I would say that if you have your stories worked out and then practice with someone who knows you really well like your best friend, girl friend and wife etc, you should be good. A lot of people try and practice answering questions in front of a mirror which is a really bad strategy as the mirror does not give you any feedback. Also, please be absolutely thorough with your resume and the respective school’s application. The last thing you want is that you are asked a question from your application and you are clueless about it.
I had prepared a question bank and had written answers (stories) for all of them. Most important questions are about your long term goals, short term goals, why an MBA at this stage of your life and why a particular school, what value would you add to a class etc â¦. I didn’t do any extra bit, just the usual stuff.
Tell us something about your interview at Cambridge Judge and other schools chosen by you.
Every school is different. At Judge, the interviews are conducted by faculty. At another school I had two alumni interviews and at a third school I was interviewed by the Admissions committee so it varies from school to school. Although I can’t share specific questions, what I can definitely tell is that an MBA is a huge investment, if you add the opportunity cost involved then it is probably the most expensive investment most people will make after buying a house, hence, the business schools want to make sure that you have thought through this and have a goal in mind. You have to have strong rationale of why an MBA, what at this stage of your career and why at this age, why from this school and what do you plan to get out of the programme etc.
Do your research, get in touch with students and alumni from the schools you want to apply to. Use Linkedin as it is a great tool. I spoke to at least 15 current students / alumni before I decided to apply to Judge so please do your research as this is a really important decision.
Any suggestions and tips you would like to share with the aspirants on drafting the application for Cambridge Judge?
Judge is one of the most selective business schools and the average age of candidates is around 30. Our class has around eight years of work experience on an average. Please keep these things in mind before applying. Put a lot of emphasis on your journey, both professional and personal. I get asked a lot of questions about how to make a profile unique â¦ which isn’t the right question to ask because all profiles are unique. You just need to dig deep and bring out the uniqueness.
Any other unique experiences you would like to share with us?
I would say coming to Cambridge for the interview process was a unique experience and I would suggest that applicants should try and visit the school before they decide on it. I know a lot of people don’t do it as they feel it’s expensive but if you are willing to spend 55-60 lacs then spend a couple more and make a more informed decision by visiting the place. I fell in love with Cambridge the moment I landed here. Just to be around a place which has been the center of excellence for over 800 years and where every corner and street has a fascinating story to tell has been overwhelming.
Any other advice, you would like to give to prospective MBA students at a Top MBA School abroad?
The visa process is a challenge in itself so make sure that keep yourself updated on the developments by frequently visiting UK Border Agency’s website. Apply as early as possible for the visa. Do try and speak to people who have been though the process earlier.
I invested part savings and took a part loan from SBI. Again start this process early. I started working on my loan application around 4 months before I was supposed to leave the country.
It’s a long process, the entire process from taking GMAT to joining a school is easily an 18 months long process so keep that in mind and do give yourself enough time.
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