Graduate Studies Blog



Article contributed by Shiladitya Ghose, Nanyang MBA, Class of 2020.

3rd July, 2019 5:30 AM: I checked my watch from the corner of my left eye. We had been flying for a couple of hours and the first rays of the run were peeping through the half open window shades. Indigo 6E-51 crew from Chennai to Singapore had deemed me a single man capable of operating the plane’s door in case of an emergency and thus I had landed the emergency seat with extra legroom. I shifted to my left and pulled down the window shades. A beautiful velvety layer of clouds with hues of yellow and red greeted me – sunrise scenes on board were my favourite. On my right, a gentleman -around 50 years of age was snoring quietly, his spectacles placed delicately near the bottom of his rather stubby nose. There was nothing much to do, I shuffled my legs and turned my attention back to the brilliant display of colours outside.

Choosing the right Programme

My mind drifted to my MBA application journey which started in May 2018. Back then I was working as a Business Analyst in Sabre – one of the world’s major GDS (Global Distribution Systems) in Bangalore, India. A GMAT score of 730 seemed competitive but for a top b-school like NBS, one could never be sure. Singapore, being the gateway to the Asian marketplace and because of its close proximity to home was a natural choice.

Writing compelling essays

Thus started my application phase. I wanted to write my own essays without the help of admission consultants. While this did make it difficult to keep track of the deadlines and have the applications ready in time, it made the journey more enriching. In hindsight, this phase helped me answer a very important and pertinent question – Why MBA. Most B schools want you to list down 5 things – Why MBA? Why that specific program? What do you bring to the table? What are your long term and short-term goals? How can the programme help you realize your short- and long-term goals? My advice to applicants would be to figure out answers to these questions before you sit to down your essays. How do you write a compelling essay? Study the program in detail. Start with the website and dig deeper: find out about the curriculum- does any course or a list of courses interest you? Is it a 1 year or a 2-year program? Then check the class profile for the previous year and placement statistics: what percentage of students were placed in the industry you are targeting? If you want to work in a particular country post MBA, check the relevant statistics. You might also want to try to get in touch with the heads of the student bodies through LinkedIn for additional information. Also look out for any QS events that happen in your vicinity. They give you an excellent opportunity to meet the AdCom. You get fresh insights that can be very helpful in writing your essays. I reached out to several NBS alumni who were only too happy to help – I am grateful to them for taking time out of their busy schedules; I finally submitted my application in October. The NBS application window for AY 2020/2021 commences on August 31, 2019. Watch out!

Getting the interview call

I received the invite for the interview in about 2 weeks’ time. I had followed up with the NBS Admissions Committee and had my fingers crossed. Receiving the interview call was first step to landing myself a seat in one of the top 30 programs in the world. While I did have an option to interview over Skype, I felt flying to Mumbai was a better choice. The Admissions Committee was then touring India for various QS events and I was overjoyed at the idea of getting the opportunity to meet them in person. My interview was scheduled on 1st December.

Sweaty hands and nervous smiles

I was a bit pensive before the interview. Other b-school interviews had gone along expected lines. I had read debriefs of a few alumni and most predicted a few questions on the Asian market and macro-economics. Coming from an engineering background, I had received no formal education in this field and had my fingers crossed.

I arrived at my interview location in Mumbai 30 minutes before schedule. This gave me an opportunity to meet Kenny, the programme manager from the Adcom. Kenny and I immediately hit it off – in those 30 minutes we ended up talking about our mutual love for photography, food and travel. In fact, when I sat on other side of the table during the actual interview, all the nervousness had vanished. Thomas Seet and Prof. Teck Min Choo were my other interviewers. The first part of the interview went on like a breeze – a heart to heart conversation of sorts. Asian B-schools operate in an extremely competitive job market and thus they try to make sure that your short-term goals are clear and aligned with those of the programme. In other words, the admissions committee wants to ensure that there is job market available for the kind of work profile or function that you are seeking post MBA. I was quizzed on my post MBA goals, previous work experience and my hobbies. I must admit I had my foot in my mouth when I was asked to compare the Indian and Chinese economies; completely foxed, I mumbled unconvincingly! I felt that I would be dinged given my answer and was horribly cross with myself for not having focused enough on the “Asian related questions” as my seniors had advised. I returned to Bangalore the same day – dejected.

Admit Day!

I got my admit letter on the 7th December at 1: 52 PM. No, I did not need to check my Gmail for the timestamp – I have it committed to memory. This is what it meant to me. I read and re-read the first sentence:


I am very pleased to inform you that you have been offered a place in the Nanyang MBA class starting July 2019 at Nanyang Business School, Singapore.

It is hard to describe to my feelings at that time: Sheer joy, elation…

I had dozed off and was woken by the kind crew asking me to fill up the Singapore immigration form. It was 9 AM on my watch- still set to India time. 15 minutes more to land- the first officer announced. Smiling to myself – I took my pen out and started filling out the details. I had met a few amazing people in the last few hours – my would-be classmates who were on the same flight. As the plane swerved left to align with the runway before final descent, I said a quick prayer- a “thank you” for the all moments – highs and lows that had all built up to this very moment.

A month into the programme I have every reason to believe I had made the right choice.


To learn more about our Nanyang MBA programme, please visit our website.