We got an opportunity to interview Vivek, graduate from IIT Kharagpur, who was awarded Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship by Stanford University for its 2-year MBA program. He will be starting his program in coming September and agreed to give us an insight into his application effort.

MBAfusion: What was your GMAT Score? How did you go about the preparation?

Vivek: I scored 760 and had taken the exam in June 2010. I had about 45 days to prepare for my GMAT. I referred Kaplan and Official Guide; I took a number of free GMAT tests available on the internet. Sentence Correction was the main challenge that I faced. My effort was therefore focused on addressing the challenges in SC.

I took 3-4 tests to start with so as to know what are my strengths and weaknesses. During my preparation I took regular tests to keep a track of my performance. Although I took the GMATPrep only in the week just before my GMAT.

MBAfusion: Which were the other schools that you applied to? Why did you choose those specific schools?

Vivek: I had applied to Harvard and Wharton in the first round. I had listed down 15 top schools after referring down to rankings such as US News and Financial Times. I then listed down the strengths of the schools like Wharton was finance, Harvard is about General Management. I visited the schools’ websites and went through School Guidebook by one of the GMAT preparation companies. I then spoke to the alums and students from these schools. I finally arrived at a list of top 6 schools and made my choice: H, S and W in the first round and Kellogg, Booth and Columbia in the second round.

Three of my seniors from P&G had made to Kellogg in the last year. Therefore, I was very positive about Kellogg.

MBAfusion: How did you prepare your fellowship application?

Vivek: I knew about the fellowship 4 months before the deadline. That gave me ample time to prepare a strong fellowship application.

I spoke to my seniors. There was no specific answer that I could get. I was specifically advised to think about my interests. Talking to my father helped me a lot. He helped me in analyzing different phases of my life and also shared his observations. I could see patterns and the specific drivers in my life that inspired me to take important decisions.

I also brainstormed on some opportunities in specific sectors and finally chose one of them, something in the clean energy development. Coming from electrical engineering background and having completed projects in the sector, I then fitted my background with the opportunity.

MBAfusion: How did you go about building your story?

Vivek: In my case, I built my story by thinking about my long term goals and the short term leads. Once I finalized these two things, it was easy to fit in the other elements.

I said that my long term goal is entrepreneurship in clean energy, what I have done in my academics, how does my P&G work ex fits in with this goal, what do I want to learn at Stanford, what do I want to learn from my work ex after Stanford and how do I finally reach my long term – this was my story line.

MBAfusion: How did you go about writing essays?

Vivek: I started writing Stanford essays in July and dedicated about 3 months to the essay-writing effort.

It took a long time in coming up with the first draft essays. I did a lot of thinking and started jotting down the points. I then started forming full sentences from those points. I then formed the initial drafts of the essays. I was not too concerned about the word limits initially. I would normally deal with one essay a day, have a single long sitting and finish off with that essay. The next day, I would move on to the next essay. After 5-6 iterations, my essays had shaped up.

I had planned the whole effort well and submitted my essays well advance in time. Almost a week before the deadline for all the schools.

MBAfusion: How did you get your essays reviewed?

Vivek: My 3 seniors from Kellogg and my family members helped me out for all the essays. They gave me feedback on grammatical aspects, flow of the essays, although my story did not change much. Since my seniors were already a part of the US management education system, they could help me to put certain aspects of my storyline on paper in a more effective way.

I also got conflicting reviews for some aspects of my essays but then I took the final call as in what fits in better and what makes more appeal to me.

Don’t get stressed out on word limit, don’t worry too much initially on the choice of words and focus on the content would be the top three lessons that I would like to give to the aspirants.

MBAfusion: How did you choose your recommenders?

Vivek: I chose colleagues and supervisors from P&G for the recommendations. It was a pretty easy choice for me.

MBAfusion: How did you prepare for the Stanford interview?

Vivek: I had about 11 days to prepare. I referred to Stanford interview experiences on the internet and prepared a standard list of 50-60 questions. I did about 4 mock interviews with my friends based on those 50-60 questions.

MBAfusion: And how was your interview experience?

Vivek: My interviewer was an IIT Delhi alumnus who had worked with Hindustan Unilever after IIT, joined Stanford, worked with McKinsey for a couple of years and then started on his own.

The interview was about 40 minutes long and very conversational in style. My thorough interview preparation helped me in sailing through the interview smoothly. I had not mugged up answers but had the themes of the answers in my mind.

MBAfusion: When did you hear about the results? What do you plan to do henceforth before joining Stanford?

Vivek: I heard about the result on 15th December. I will be leaving P&G in May and then travel around with my family.

About Vivek

Vivek Goyal, graduated from IIT Kharagpur, was awarded Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship and will be starting his 2-year MBA program at Stanford this year. Vivek’s MBA app effort was very well organized. Right from planning his GMAT and managing his essay effort to preparing for interview, he allocated his time very effectively.

Vivek is working with P&G as an Operations Department Manager and has won several awards at the company for his professional and extra-curricular achievements.

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