We got an opportunity to interview Suhail, graduate from IIT Kanpur, 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.

Following are the highlights from our conversation.

MBAfusion: When did you come to know about the Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship? How did you go about applying?

Suhail: I came to know about the fellowship in May 2010. With only 7 days in hand, I faced extreme time constraints. Although application details requirements were limited, writing the 250-word essay on “How do you aspire to shape your country’s future?” was extremely tough due to word-limit constraint. I would say out of 7 days, I spent the initial 4 days in just thinking about the question and no firm draft of the essay. The 5th day, I came up with the first draft and submitted it after a few reviews.

MBAfusion: How did you manage the thought process behind the essay?

Suhail: Talking to one of my close friends helped a lot. I thought hard as in what my real aspirations are and what would be my unique way of shaping the country’s future.

MBAfusion: How did you go about preparing for GMAT?

Suhail: As soon as I got the result in June 2010, I took my GMAT date and started preparing for the exam. Official Guide, Kaplan 800 and Manhattan Sentence Correction were the key reference materials. I took Manhattan tests, excellent series I must say. I took the series twice, apart from practicing with the standard GMATPrep. I took infinite online tests. Basic schedule was 3 hours daily during the weekday and 12 hours during the weekend. But I studied something like 10 hours a day in the last 10 days. I scored 730 in the GMAT.

MBAfusion: You were done with your GMAT by September beginning. What next?

Suhail: I could not begin with the essays immediately. The workload at that point in time was immense and I was working very hard to manage the essays writing. One thing that worked in my favor was that the theme of my essays was already decided, thanks to the fellowship essay.

In the initial phase, I did a lot of research – visiting school website, reading blogs, trying to see where I fit in and more. I was trying hard to understand the connection between Stanford and me. The elements of Entrepreneurship and ‘Free Thinking’ definitely made a deep impact on me.

MBAfusion: How did you go about reviewing your essays?

Suhail: I took most of the help from one of my friends (a childhood friend and then an IIM-A first year student) who is very close to me and knew my profile and personality in and out. Apart from that a few other friends helped me in reviewing the semi-final drafts. I got a strong feedback against a few elements of my essays. So I edited a few but I had a very strong feeling favoring the other ones. So I kept them in the essays.

MBAfusion: How did you handle the most intimidating essay – What matters most to you, and why?

Suhail: For me, this was the easiest essay, as I had thought it through well during my fellowship application stage itself. I strongly believe that if one tries to fake this essay it is definitely the most difficult one. But if the essay is thought in terms of the values that one stands for, I believe it is easier to tackle this essay. I know of a senior who could get through Stanford and had written that playing golf is what matters most to him. So it is all about conviction, I would say.

MBAfusion: What were the short questions that you chose?

Suhail: A significant experience at PwC led me to select the “Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.” question while my social involvement at ACE helped me in coming up with a strong example for “Tell us about a time when you generated support from others for an idea or initiative.”

MBAfusion: How did you choose your recommenders?

Suhail: Since, I was involved in a start-up, I did not have a current supervisor but then my ex-supervisor from PwC agreed to recommend me. Peer recommendation was from my colleague who had worked closely with me. My guide at the social development initiative gave me the third recommendation.

About Suhail

Suhail Abidi, graduated from IIT Kanpur, was awarded Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship and will be starting his 2-year MBA program at Stanford this year.

The multiple peaks in Suhail’s profile make his application unique. Entrepreneurship experience, consulting experience with Big-4 firm and intense social involvement make his profile comply to what Stanford looks for and yet make it stand out from the crowd.

Till recently Suhail was with PromptCloud Technologies, a company that provides solutions in Large Scale Data and Cloud Computing. Before PromptCloud, he was a Senior Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and was on a fast-track career path. While working with PwC, Suhail has been involved with various social development initiatives.



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