My journey to the MBA

5 minute read

I grew up in India and lived in a military household. My father was in the army, and we used to move cities every two or so years.

This nomadic upbringing helped me experience almost every part of India growing up, which was a truly enriching experience.

A civil engineer by background, I became passionate about transportation and mobility during an internship in Tanzania in 2013. I decided that grad school was the way to go, and I moved to Chicago immediately after my undergraduate program finished to study transport systems. I studied and worked there for five years before moving back to India to pursue a career in management consulting.

Outside of work, I’m a huge football fan and love reading and keeping up with current affairs. I’m also an amateur chef (work in progress!) and I used to run a football podcast with a few friends till last year.

Why did you decide to apply to the Oxford MBA?

I first thought about an MBA in 2019, when I moved from the US to India. My reasons for considering it at the time were a bit cruder – better compensation, prestige, etc. But I realised that I hadn’t thought deeply about the reasons for an MBA, and I decided to park my plans in favour of working for a few more years to get some experience and clarity.

During the pandemic, I got a clearer idea of why I wanted to do an MBA. I got some interesting work at my firm that I realized was the kind I wanted to do more of over the course of my career. I also had a more coherent vision of what I wanted to achieve during my career.

Having already spent time in the US, I was keen to move to the UK or Europe next. I chose to apply to Oxford Saïd not only for its prestige but also because all the alumni I spoke with spoke highly of their time there.

Oxford’s 'big picture' bias in its course design (through things like GOTO), its focus on socially responsible business practices, and the fact that the business school can leverage the world-class resources available throughout Oxford appealed to me.

How have you been preparing to start the programme in September?

This summer has been about family for me. The pandemic really threw a wrench in the personal lives of me and several others. So, I took the opportunity to spend some time earlier this summer with my parents.

My wife resides in the US and we have been in a long-distance relationship for the last three years. The pandemic made it more challenging because of the travel restrictions. But I’m with her in the US now and we’re planning a proper wedding before the start of the programme (we had a court wedding during the pandemic and now want to host a more significant ceremony with our loved ones.)

Besides that, I’ve been speaking with alums and acquaintances to prepare for the programme. Given that it’s a tight and hectic 12-month program, I’ve been trying to get as much preparation done as possible.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?

My long-term goal is to return to the airline industry as an executive. But in the short term, I’m looking to stick to consulting to explore different industries and geographies. I think consulting is a great way to get a broad swathe of experience across disciplines and I plan to use that to grow my skill set.

The Oxford MBA is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a clearer view of my career objectives. I’ve had the chance to speak with several incoming classmates about their backgrounds and experiences. I’m very excited to build lifelong relationships with people who, like me, hope to bring a positive impact to the world. I hope to learn from them (and others in the Oxford ecosystem) and better understand what I want my career to look like.

What are you most looking forward to from the year ahead?

The challenge for me, and probably many of my classmates, is trying to soak up as much of the Oxford experience as possible in a year. On an academic note, I’m keen on participating in some of the programme’s unique offerings, such as GOTO. Many alumni spoke highly about their experience working on the GOTO assignments and I’m excited about the prospect of participating in it.

I’m also very eager to attend two other unique offerings: debates at the Oxford Union and formals. I think it’s hard to get the full Oxford experience without attending a few of each!

Do you have any advice for those looking to apply to join the programme next year?

Talk to alums. Not just those from Oxford but other programmes as well. Each person you speak with has been through what you’re going through before starting your application and can give you a unique response to your questions. Most people you reach out to will be happy to help you if you have a clear list of questions for them and are conscious of their time.

If you get selected to attend Oxford Saïd, I’d say come in with a plan for what you want this one year of your life to be about. Regardless of whether you have a clear post-MBA career vision mapped out, identify the opportunities that the business school and the wider university offer (talk to alums or read this blog!) and know what you’ll be prioritising during your time here. FOMO is real (and I haven’t even started yet), but identifying what matters to you before starting the programme will help you make the right choices while you’re in it.